City Hall a Koh-Conspirator in HuffPost Ortiz Hit?

July 8, 2016

A smashmouth piece in the Huffington Post this week about U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her pattern of political prosecutions has drawn attention in both local dailies, but, as usual, from different angles.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe featured a Joan Vennochi column with this lede:

POLITICAL CORRUPTION cases generate big headlines — and big push back.

Just ask US Attorney Carmen Ortiz. She made a big splash when she indicted two aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on charges they forced organizers of a music festival to hire union workers. But now, with Walsh presumed to be her ultimate prize, a posse of critics is throwing cold water on the prosecution.

 

Vennochi proceeded to cite criticism of Ortiz by former AG Martha Coakley, attorney Harvey Silverglate, and retired federal judge Nancy Gertner – all of whom were quoted in the HuffPost takedown.

Crosstown at the Boston Herald, though, the focus was more on the question of Marty Walsh’s possible involvement in the Ortiz hit, given that she has already indicted two Walsh administration officials on charges of extortion.

Yesterday’s front page (Inexplicable Little Green Number sold separately):

 

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The story inside has Walsh denying he’s “waging a PR counteroffensive” against Ortiz, but points out that “Walsh’s chief of staff, Daniel A. Koh, formerly served as chief of staff to Huffington Post Editor Arianna Huffington and as general manager of Huffington Post Live before joining the mayor’s inner circle.”

Today there’s no follow-up in the Globe, but the Herald has this piece by Dan Atkinson.

Call for answers on Huffington Post piece

PAC wants ‘public scrutiny’ re Walsh role

A national conservative group wants to see any communications between City Hall and the authors of a Huffington Post piece blasting U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, saying that if Mayor Martin J. Walsh or his staff engaged in a political hit job, they should be “held up to public scrutiny.”Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 1.53.24 PM

A Herald front-page story yesterday quoted Walsh saying he and his aides had no involvement in the article, titled “This Federal Prosecutor Is Building A Career Indicting The Good Guys.” But the mayor admitted that he and his chief of staff, Daniel A. Koh — who used to work at The Huffington Post — knew the piece was in the works.

“Both the timeline and the mayor’s answer raised red flags for us,” said Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for America Rising PAC, which filed a public records request with the city for any emails and texts between the Walsh administration and The Huffington Post.

 

Just what Walsh needs right now, eh? One more group emauling him.


Bulger Auction Gets Different Bids from Local Dailies

March 31, 2016

From our Late to the Party of the First Part desk

James “Whitey” Bulger has always been two different people in the Boston dailies. See: Mike (Jimmy didn’t allow heroin in South Boston) Barnicle for details.

But that was then. And this is now, when it’s all over but the routing of Bulger’s assets to his victims.

From Wednesday’s Boston Globe:

Bulger assets added to victim fund

Stanley Cup ring, cash, benefits seized

James “Whitey” Bulger’s Social Security benefits, his replica Stanley Cup ring, and $50,000 he stashed in a London safe deposit box have been added to a growing pile of assets that were seized from the gangster and will be divided among the families of his victims, according to court filings.

Federal prosecutors urged a judge Monday to issue an order paving the way for an auction by the US Marshals Service of dozens of items seized from Bulger’s Santa Monica, Calif., apartment following his capture in June 2011.

 

It’s a very different picture in Wednesday’s Boston Herald:

Bulger victim: Auction will give me ‘peanuts’

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The widow of Revere nightclub owner Richard Castucci — who rubbed elbows with Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack until James “Whitey” Bulger ordered him shot in the head 40 years ago — will reap “peanuts” from a class-action settlement with the feds and little more from an auction of the mob kingpin’s worldly possessions, her lawyer claims.

“Mrs. Castucci just wanted to get this chapter in her life closed,” Sandra Castucci’s lawyer Michael Laurano said yesterday after the Herald reported U.S. Attorney Carmen M. 
Ortiz had petitioned a federal judge to order the sale of “any and all other personal property” the FBI seized from Bulger’s Santa Monica, Calif., hideout in 2011. The lots are to include a replica ring from the 1986 Stanley Cup championship, art, furniture, electronics, clothing, books and coins, but not dozens of firearms, a grenade, a stun gun, eight knives and ammunition fated to be destroyed.

 

Back at the Boston Globe, another widow was more . . . measured.

Patricia Donahue, whose husband, Michael, was shot to death by Bulger in 1982, said she was pleased that the government was continuing to track Bulger’s assets and surprised to hear that the notorious gangster was eligible for Social Security.

“I never knew the man worked,” Donahue said. “Nothing surprises me when it comes to ‘Whitey’ Bulger.”

 

Or when it comes to Whitey Bulger coverage, eh?


Who Cracked Hack Attack?

July 25, 2014

Now that former probation commissioner John J. O’Brien has gone down like the Hindenburg, the local dailies have  begun patting themselves on the back in earnest.

Today’s Boston Globe Page One:

The federal prosecution was based in large part on a 2010 Boston Globe Spotlight series that exposed widespread patronage hiring in the Probation Department, which oversees defendants facing charges in a criminal court and mediates disputes in family courts.

 

Crosstown, however, the Boston Herald remembers it a bit differently, giving the Globe series third billing:

 

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That’s some serious glory-grabbing by the heisty local tabloid, eh?

Hey, Globeniks: Rebuttal?


Stop the Presses! Boston Herald Runs Correction!!

June 20, 2014

As most of you know, it’s a rare thing indeed to see a correction in the feisty local tabloid. Think of it as a sort of Halley’s Comment when one does turn up, as actually happened in today’s edition.

From the Herald’s op-ed page:

 

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Looks like a pretty harmless mistake, right? So why the correction in this case? Hell, the Heraldniks unapologetically manufacture news out of whole cloth all the time, like yesterday’s ludicrous front page:

 

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As old friend Dan Kennedy noted at Media Nation, “the Washington Redskins trademark ruling will have little effect.” But that had no effect on the Herald.

So back to the question: Why the correction to the Astrue column, which carried the headline “Connector mes$ demands probe.” Perhaps because of this:

[U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz] should look at the grant HHS awarded to Massachusetts to “help” other New England states build their exchanges. As silly as it looks now, HHS believed that Massachusetts would excel among the states because it built the first exchange during the Romney administration. Ironically, Connecticut is now providing Massachusetts with indispensable software and technical assistance. Ortiz needs to find out how [Massachusetts Health Connector Executive Director Jean] Yang spent the HHS grant and whether she illegally redirected funds to pay for the state’s staggering cost overruns.

 

Maybe the Herald’s finally lost enough libel lawsuits to make it a little less, well, Heraldish.

Or maybe not.

 


Herald’s Carr Puts Ex-Chelsea Housing Thief – Er, Chief – in Jail

February 17, 2013

Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr really wants to see former Chelsea Housing Director Michael E. McLaughlin thrown in the sneezer.

From todays piece of work:

Pension pitch; drop the Mike!

Memo to the Chelsea Retirement Board: Don’t even think about it.

Don’t even consider giving the about-to-plead-guilty-to-felonies Mike McLaughlin a pension. He shouldn’t get even a “reduced” one of $128,000 or so that he would have been eligible for if he’d played by the rules, as impossible as that would be for the lifelong payroll patriot.

This may seem like a scenario not even worth discussing. But we are, after all, talking about Chelsea, Damascus on the Mystic. This is a city where McLaughlin, as head of the Chelsea Housing Authority, was for years able to pay himself an annual salary as high as $360,000 while telling his board that he was actually making $164,000.

 

Right. And McLaughlin’s been nailed pretty good for it by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz. So, Carr concludes:

Poor Mike McLaughlin. He tried to out-Bulger Bulger, and instead he ends up another John Buonomo, a guy he regarded with contempt, except McLaughlin is going to Club Fed instead of the Billerica House of Correction.

 

Which makes you wonder whether Carr reads the local dailies, even his own. Because both of them reported yesterday that it’s more than likely McLaughlin will cooperate with federal authorities in other prosecutions and thus avoid jail time.

Boston Globe’s Page One story:

16nomedfordaEx-Chelsea housing chief will plead guilty, assist probe

Former Chelsea Housing Authority chief Michael E. McLaughlin has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, according to documents filed in federal court Friday, potentially allowing him to avoid jail time for four alleged felonies if the information he provides implicates others.

In a plea agreement made public Friday, McLaughlin agreed to help authorities inves tigate and prosecute others, though it did not identify any potential targets.

 

From Hillary Chabot’s piece in the Herald:

Ortiz doesn’t specifically detail a sentence recommendation, leaving it up to the judge, but suggests that McLaughlin’s sentence be lowered from the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a possible $250,000 fine. McLaughlin should be imprisoned, “at the low end of the Sentencing Guideline range,” Ortiz wrote, adding prosecutors would agree to a $4,000 fee as well as 24 months of supervised release.

 

Somebody get Howie a home subscription, eh?


A Chelsea Morning in the Local Dailies

January 24, 2013

Two very – wait for it – different takes on former Chelsea housing authority honcho Michael McLaughlin in this morning’s Boston papers.

The Globe puts the story in the power position: Page One, upper right.

16nomedfordaMcLaughlin charged in hiding of pay

The former chief of the Chelsea Housing Authority was charged Wednesday with four felony counts of deliberately concealing his inflated salary from state and federal regulators from 2008 until he resigned in 2011, triggering a scandal that has rocked Massachusetts’ public housing system to its foundation.

US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced the federal charges against Michael E. McLaughlin, 67, of Dracut, alleging that McLaughlin deliberately underreported his annual salary by up to $164,000 a year in mandatory reports to state and federal housing regulators. The charges were contained in a document that is normally used when the defendant has agreed to plead guilty.

 

(Explanation of that last: “the charges against [McLaughlin] came not from the grand jury, but in a document called a criminal information. Prosecutors normally file such a document when a defendant agrees to a plea deal.”)

Crosstown at the Herald, the story appears on page two, and from an oblique angle:

111911mclaughlinFeds charge Tim Murray’s buddy

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray’s surprise exit from the 2014 governor’s race could be tied to federal charges brought against his one-time associate Michael McLaughlin yesterday for falsely boosting his salary, local politicos speculated.

“It probably reinforces what a lot of people were thinking last week,” said Richard Tisei, a former Republican state senator who ran unsuccessfully for Congress. “The whole McLaughlin scandal would have hobbled any potential run for governor, and it would have lasted during the whole campaign. You can’t go an inch into that story without Tim Murray’s name popping up.”

McLaughlin, the embattled former Chelsea Housing Authority director, was a longtime Murray fundraiser, and there are ongoing questions as to whether he pressured staffers to give to the lieutenant governor’s campaign. Murray reportedly was also questioned by federal investigators.

 

The Globe waited until the fifth graf to drag Murray into McLaughlin’s mess.

Slowpokes.

 


Jury’s Out on Carmen Ortiz

January 17, 2013

Not-quite-matching her & her columns in the local papers on the topic of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her (over?)zealous prosecution of Aaron Swartz.

Start with Margery Eagan’s column in the Boston Herald:

IMG_6554.JPGOutrage over zealous feds

Statement too little, too late

Just days ago, speculation was rampant. Gov. Carmen Ortiz? U.S. Sen. Carmen Ortiz?

Well, that’s all over now.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is done. Finished. Forever linked to bringing the full and frightening weight of the federal government down upon a 26-year-old computer genius — and a suicide risk.

 

If that’s not tough enough for you, how about this, regarding the six month/guilty plea deal Swartz was offered :

“Oh, so you’re innocent. Do only six months in jail,” said a sarcastic Harvey Silverglate, Boston civil liberties 
attorney and author of “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.” He accused Ortiz’s office of being “drunk with power” and said up to now the media had “protected” Ortiz 
because “she’s a Hispanic woman.”

 

Ouch.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, the view was quite different in Joan Vennochi’s op-ed piece.

Swartz case is sad, but not an overreach

WHEN IT comes to the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old computer prodigy who killed himself, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz has explaining to do.

But there are also questions for Swartz’s lawyer, Elliot Peters.

Why reject the government’s offer of a four-to-six month prison sentence? That’s much less than the 35 years and $1 million fine allowed under the federal law that Swartz was charged with violating.

Peters told the Globe that Swartz didn’t believe he was a felon; he was acting on the principle that information on the Internet should be free when he downloaded academic journals from an MIT computer system. But defending principle was not his lawyer’s job. It was to provide Swartz with the best legal advice, given the charges and the government’s refusal to back down.

 

Vennochi says “the widespread revulsion directed at the US attorney’s office is overreach by cyber-bullies.”

So take your pick – did Oriz bully Swartz or are Internet thugs bullying her?

Or both?