At the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse on Fan Pier today, former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi was found guilty by a jury in seven of the nine counts charged against him. The most damaging counts included extortion and conspiracy to defraud citizens of honest services related to contracts awarded to Cognos, a software company, in exchange for up to $65,000 in kickbacks.
DiMasi lives on Commercial Street with his wife, Debbie, in the North End, a neighborhood he served as State Representative for the Third Suffolk District eventually rising to become Speaker. Outside the courthouse, DiMasi proclaimed his innocence and vowed to appeal, saying the jury did not correctly interpret the law regarding honest services fraud. Regarding his tenure in the House, he said, “I never made any decision unless I thought it was in the best interest of the Commonwealth. I was a legislator who did the best I could and I made a lot of good decisions and I helped a lot of people.”
State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, North End resident and former aide to DiMasi was elected in a special 2009 election to the Third Suffolk District seat after the Speaker’s resignation. In a phone conversation today, Michlewitz commented:
“Today’s Jury verdict convicting Sal DiMasi is disappointing and ends a tumultuous and sad chapter for my neighborhood, the District and the Legislature. It is the hope that through my continued work and commitment to the people of the 3rd Suffolk, that I will help restore the public’s confidence in their elected government. It is also disappointing that people will forget the good that Sal did for equality, for health care, and for the neighborhoods he represented. My heart goes out to his family in this difficult time.”
DiMasi was released after the verdict with sentencing set for August 18, 2011. He faces up to 25 years in jail. Co-defendant and lobbyist Richard McDonough was also found guilty of the same counts as the former Speaker. Accountant Richard Vitale was acquitted on all charges. Sal DiMasi’s conviction follows that of two other House Speakers, Tom Finneran, who resigned in 2004 and Charles Flaherty who resigned in 1996.