Arthur Winn, 72, of Brookline, faces prison time and fines on charges he used illegal campaign contributions - including funds diverted from public-housing projects - to help win state approval and funds for his failed Columbus Center project.
Winn was a prominent backer of convicted ex-state Senator Dianne Wilkerson during her troubles getting on the ballot and later fighting a federal indictment; in turn, she strongly supported the Columbus Center project. But in a statement, the FBI and the US Attorney's office in Boston says Wilkerson was not the only recipient of Winn largesse in an attempt to get his massive project built on a deck over the turnpike in the South End:
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Using strawmen and conduits to conceal the true source of campaign funds erodes the public’s confidence in our electoral system. The conduct alleged today, which includes conduit contributions that were ultimately reimbursed using funds from publicly subsidized housing communities, demonstrates the importance of open and honest campaign funding and record keeping.”
The information charging ARTHUR WINN alleges that he solicited and made campaign contributions to a wide variety of candidates for elected office with the hope that these elected officials would generally support his companies’ development projects, including Winn Columbus Center Limited Partnership’s development of Columbus Center. Columbus Center was a mixed-use development that was to be built over the Massachusetts Turnpike and, at times, was designed to include a luxury hotel, condominiums, retail stores, and other amenities.
In response to the increasing demand to solicit these contributions from company vendors, [Winn associate] Raffol reimbursed some vendors for the campaign contributions solicited from them. These reimbursements came in, among other forms, payments for inflated or false invoices, including invoices billed to certain publicly subsidized housing communities. According to the information, in engaging in this conduct, the true source of these contributions was disguised from the FEC and state authorities, and, in some cases, circumvented the statutory prohibition on corporate contributions.