Apr 26, 2011 12:20 AM GMT
Guess which party all three Speakers belonged to.
Tough justice expected for Sal DiMasi
The third Massachusetts House speaker in a row to face criminal charges will appear in U.S. District Court tomorrow as a defendant, in what promises to be a drawn-out, complicated trial.
Jury selection is due to begin tomorrow in ex-Speaker Salvatore F. “Sal” DiMasi’s federal corruption trial — an anticipated eight-week endurance test so character-rich and convoluted it took the U.S. Attorney’s Office 67 pages to explain the plot in its brief, prompting U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf to groan last week, “I don’t think I can take two months of this.”
DiMasi’s predecessor, former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, 61, pleaded guilty in 2007 to obstruction of justice stemming from his involvement in a racially sensitive legislative redistricting plan. Finneran had taken power after Speaker Charles F. Flaherty Jr., 72, pleaded guilty in 1996 to tax evasion. Neither saw the inside of a cell.
But this time, justice may demand a thorough airing of both sides’ arguments at trial. DiMasi’s trial follows a high-profile bribery sting targeting former State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and City Councilor Chuck Turner — two black pols now doing prison time, which has led to speculation that the feds won’t let a white pol walk on a plea deal. DiMasi’s lawyers also will have to navigate what could be a prosecution-friendly jury pool, said George Serra, director of the Center for Legislative Studies at Bridgewater State University.
“I think people are really at the end of their ropes with politicians,” Serra said. “Every time you turn around there’s a politician being brought up on corruption charges.”