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Jury convicts two City Hall officials of conspiracy, one of extortion

NBC Boston reports on the verdicts against Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan, in a trial stemming from the early days of the Walsh administration, when Boston Calling was still held on City Hall Plaza.



She is too busy with politics to worry about corruption.


She reinterpreted what 'corruption' means base on an oral and textual history in the Commonwealth. Deleo said it was ok and Charlie sent a letter timidly asking for clarification when she feels like getting around to it.

Why anger a core constituency? She let the feds take this one, same as the Troop E featherbedding.


Trying to make sure that people who rent city property pay their employees properly should not be a crime. The US Attorney's office overreached and the jury did not follow instructions.


At Boston Calling and my compensation was more than fair, thanks for playing though! I have no problems with unions in general but hate union thugs. Lock them up.


Because most of their employees had to pay a deposit.

Kids who are volunteering because they want the free wristband? Instagram influencer narcissists?


yes, 90% of their employees were unpaid volunteers.

that 20-something party goers who enjoy taking lots of selfies, and blocking the view of the stage while they hold their phones up recording something that they can't be bothered to enjoy in real time, had to volunteer at the sign up table in order to get in for free before snorting coke, that doesn't mandate thuggish tactics.

90% of their employees were unpaid volunteers.

Is that a bad thing?
If the union represents workers whose jobs are routinely held by volunteers, the union may want to reconsider the jobs it represents.
Also, do you have a source for that detail?

Thanks, I wasn't aware of that angle on this.
It has no bearing on the extortion case, though.

Federal prosecution of a municipal official for supporting organized labor for an employer that profits off of free labor in violation of federal minimum wage laws.

Your brand of brain washing is why workers have no rights in the usa. Even when employers break the law, you take the corporation's side.

Calm down. All I'm saying is that these are two totally separate issues/cases that have no bearing on each other.

The promoter was using dubious methods to employ people. I'm not taking the corporation's side. I am surprised there was no mention of tax violations in addition to the min wage issues.

City employees extorted the promoter to hire union labor. Do you think that is a good thing?

It wasn't extortion. And I voted for Walsh because he supports unions. You act as if being in a union is a bad thing. These companies are discriminating against union members. And the union sets the hourly wage and job conditions. This is about their hiring process, how can you separate minimum wage violations from that?

From the article:

While the city's tourism chief Kenneth Brissette and its head of intergovernmental affairs Timothy Sullivan were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion, Brisette was found guilty of extortion as well, while Sullivan was not.

Gee, looks like extortion to me.

Are you saying it wasn't extortion because the extortionists were trying to achieve a goal you agree with? That is, the end justifies the means?

As for unions, I agree with them in principle, but also believe that they can be counter-productive sometimes and shoot themselves in the foot. By no means do I favor a union simply because it's a union.

Neither Mayor Walsh or these two received anything in exchange for Boston Calling hiring union workers. They had no power to withhold the permits. No evidence was presented that they threatened to withhold the permits. This case should not have been allowed to go to verdict. It was decided on anti union federal sentiment. Boston Calling claims that they assumed the permits would be withheld. But they didn't report it at the time because Boston Calling's illegal hiring of free labor would have come under scrutiny.

It's the millennial narcissists! They're history's greatest monsters!

Hyperbole about "greatest monsters"! When we were talking about whether volunteers who get free shit should be paid!

I'm a millennial, dipshit.

I'm a millennial dipshit.

Fixed that for you. No charge.

The admission that your initial reply was a pointless comment is gladly accepted as well.

I only quote the Simpsons when I'm engaged in a serious intellectual debate with someone I deeply respect.

You pretended I was talking about something I wasn't, and have now backtracked into trollery because I responded when you weren't expecting a response.

You're free to go fuck yourself any time, asswipe.

Did you just challenge me to a fistfight in email?

You really are a dipshit!

Put the bong down.

You sent me an email challenging me to fight "anywhere, anytime". At least be man enough to own it, dipshit.

Done dealing with your gaslighting and mental illness. Have a good one.

Does that mean you're done embarrassing yourself, too?

You, on the other hand...

I don't think that expression actually means what you think it does.

You make it seem like these dude were saints saying " You have to pay your people $x/hr." When they actually said "you have to hire our people, even if you don't need them. And we don't care about the people you hired."


According to the evidence they said no such thing. They asked him to hire union labor. They had no power to with hold permits. They didn't tell anyone to withhold permits.

It would be one thing for the City to enact and enforce regulations that require anyone renting City Hall Plaza to pay prevailing wage.

But this is something else entirely. It's two city officials, acting under color of authority, trying to coerce a tenant into hiring their buddies. That's a flat-out shakedown.


Trying to make sure that people who rent city property pay their employees properly should not be a crime.

What if a State Police officer was caught pulling over drivers at random and saying, "I think I maybe saw you make an illegal lane change back there, and anyhow, even if I didnt, I'm sure I can spend the next half hour searching your car, and maybe find something wrong with your vehicle or with your paperwork and otherwise make your life miserable, but if you make a $50 donation to the food bank I'll let you go with a warning?"

Would you similarly defend said officer by saying, "trying to get hungry kids fed should not be a crime?"


False equivalency.

They were trying to negotiate union jobs to prevent a picket line. Boston calling was investigated for using "volunteers" as labor. They made people pay a deposit to work there.


Disagree. City permits should be issued if the event has a proper security plan, proper sanitation plan, let laws and regs, etc. Permits should not depend on someones personal whims. This also applied to Menino threatening to deny permits to Chick Fil A.

. Trying to make sure that people who rent city property pay their employees properly should not be a crime. The US Attorney's office overreached and the jury did not follow instructions.

They didn't follow minimum wage laws, but the permits were issued regardless.

I was about to bestow praise on the Justice Department under President Trump but this case was so egregious that it was President Obama's Justice Department who brought the charges back in 2016. Credit where its due, thanks Barack. It's not easy for a Democrat to take down another Democrat's administration. You have to wonder about Biden's role back in 2016, especially after seeing Walsh following him around like a puppy dog in the area of the federal court a few weeks ago.

I almost have to feel sorry for the two buffoons who are going to federal prison, no doubt doing what they were told from on high. This isn't Shanghai with a 24,000,000+ population where the Mayor may not be aware of his aides shaking down a D-list concert. Another black eye for Maura Healey too, seeking the national limelight by signing onto anti-Trump cases far beyond her expertise while the monkeys were running the zoo at City Hall a block from her office. Good for the Obama and Trump prosecutors, at least someone has integrity.



ooooooh Fish, have you ever considered having your own talk radio program on RKO? Without you UHub wouldn't be the same!

Fishy: You're too smart to play this dumb.

You sound to praise the decision but use the term egregious. Make up your mind.

So you're praising Obama's administration for starting this case?

Since this case implies that police details are also a form of extortion are you ready to support the arrest of officials who endorse the extortion of police details?

I'm pretty sure that with "egregious" he was referring to the offense. The praise part is giving credit where credit is due - where he would have praised Trump Admin when he thought they did it, he's praising Obama Admin when he realized they did it.

Not that there aren't problems with the police detail system, but linking this case to that practice is stretching equivalency a bit.

It's easy to dunk on these two or Marty Walsh to score political points but the facts do not support these verdicts. This was one case in a series of prosecutorial overreaches by former US Attorney Carmen Ortiz (see the Aaron Swartz case for the most galling) that were then continued by the Trump-appointed Andrew Lelling. These two city workers tried to mitigate a union-management dispute happening with an event on city property and got charged with federal crimes for it. The evidence presented never met the elements of federal extortion or conspiracy, which the judge said in initially dismissing the charges and then again in holding out the possibility of overturning this incorrect jury verdict. Absolutely chilling.


Police details are required regardless of the absolute unnecessary need. if a police detail is added to a project budget (along with the actual hiring) then permits are withheld.

That is extortion.

Boston government has sickness of legal graft and extortion.


I am pretty sure that any insurance company would disagree. And you can't get a permit for a show without insurance. Is that graft too?

I thought these guys were already acquitted. I thought they had to personally receive something of value (like, say, cash from a Saudi prince with business before the federal government staying at Trump's hotel, something like that) in order to be convicted of these types of charges.

The case was dismissed before trial by one judge, but then reinstated by another judge, and thus went to trial. This is not considered to be double jeopardy.


At considerable cost to the taxpayers. My God, will the victims of this horrible crime ever recover? How can they find the courage to carry on? For it to be suggested that they hire unionized workers for an event! It's almost as horrific as being required to hire a union police detail for roadwork or something!


Ha. It may have started as a suggestion, but it was 100% extortion when they withheld permits.


You do know the facts of the case right? They never withheld permits...idiot.

They didn't withhold permits, neither guy had that power.

For it to be suggested that they hire unionized workers for an event! It's almost as horrific as being required to hire a union police detail for roadwork or something!

The difference, of course, is that the requirement to hire a union police detail is an official policy of the city government, derived through a (mostly) transparent process, and enacted by an elected government that is accountable to the voters. This particular bit of coercion was none of those things.


There was a controversy centuries ago about whether a naughty priest's sacraments were invalidated due to the priest's sin. The decision was that the sinner had no effect on the sacrament.

Just because police details are part of law does not make the details not extortion. That just legitimizes what would otherwise be called graft.


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Adam, could you please either give us an "ignore" feature or else be more diligent about shutting this shit off?


And yet (as I wrote this) 2 people Liked the above.

Use the same “ignore” you use in real life

One "ignore" that I use in real life is that I pay money to buy books and to subscribe to newspapers and magazines, whose publishers use some of that money to hire editors, whose job is in part to filter out, from the massive stream of unsolicited shit that is submitted for publication, the occasional gem worth looking at.

Another "ignore" that I use in real life is that I direct my eyeballs and my clicks toward online content that has a high gem-to-shit ratio; the owners of that online content in turn monetize my eyeballs and clicks by selling them to advertisers; if the gem-to-shit ratio of any particular content source falls too low, I start to ignore that source, thereby taking away my eyeballs and my clicks and the associated revenue stream.

You don’t sound tedious at all


The requested "ignore" feature would spare you the tedium of ever having to see my posts or even to be reminded of my existence.

the lack of substance makes your quip dull.

This was an absolutely novel, over-reaching application of the Hobbs Act and the verdict almost certainly won't hold up on appeal.

If it does, though, it will have devastating impacts on cities' and towns' efforts to extract concessions from companies looking to profit off activities in the public realm, including open space and affordable housing.

Anyone not a hardcore libertarian who is cheering this on really needs to think harder.


... is the difference between, on the one hand, a city or town choosing to enact and enforce a policy that requires some specific act, for example, hiring union labor, versus, on the other hand, a city or town employee threatening to withhold a permit unless the applicant performs some specific act that is not required by city or town regulations.


You must not have followed the trail closely because the “victims” testified that they were never threatened nor ever felt there was an effort underway to harm them financially. These two had no power to withhold permits even if they wanted to. The scenario you’re describing is not what happened here according to the very facts presented at trial. They’re scapegoats.

Well, no evidence was presented that they threatened to withhold permits.
But in any case, it's not so clear a distinction. As an example, it's impossible for any city's zoning code to anticipate every acceptable use or community advantage. So cities negotiate for public benefits with every developer that proposes anything of significance before they'll release permits.


Exactly correct. What happens the next time a city official tells a developer to add more affordable housing to a project or the zoning permit won’t be issued? Is that a federal crime now? It’s basically the same thing alleged here: city officials forcing unwanted costs onto a private entity that it didn’t want to bear in order to secure a city permit. This has far reaching and damaging implications for city government going forward; this is not just about whether or not you like Marty Walsh.

...from companies looking to profit off activities in the public realm,

So, companies hosting, say, a concert, shouldn't be allowed to profit? If so, would the city reimburse any losses?

Any business endeavor involves risk. For a concert, all kinds of things can happen that could jeopardize profit - weather, external events, band not showing up, etc. You expect a company to assume all that risk with no expectation of profit?

No OP, but I believe the argument is that the verdict is unfair and, if upheld, will chill future efforts of cities/towns to negotiate with profit-seeking ventures requiring public space or services.

Just seems to indicate that their are guidelines and whatnot that a business would need to meet. After all, NO business is entitled to the money of the taxpayers.

Union or not, conspiracy and corruption are conspiracy and corruption. It's called organized crime.

“The 2008 (Massachusetts) flagger reform was expected to save considerable money, but because the prevailing wage law effectively requires civilian flaggers to be paid about the same as police details, and because cities and towns were not mandated to hire civilian flaggers at low-speed sites, the reform was weakened to the point of becoming [a] historical footnote,” states the policy brief by Gregory Sullivan and Michael Chieppo, titled “Whatever Happened To Flagger Reform?”-- New Boston Post

One of Governor Deval Patrick's major accomplishments was the civilian flagger bill which allows for flagmen instead of police officers at many road construction sites. Unfortunately, the flaggers have proven equally or more expensive with none of the powers that are vested in our police officers. Much like Boston Calling, contractors have opted for the less expensive option, police details. If two Walsh buffoons (or anyone else) intimidated a road crew that had a flagger and made them also hire a detail, I would hope for federal prosecution there too.

To compare our brave police officers with the trade unions is a non-starter since public employees can opt out of the union thanks to the Janus decision. Road contractors and bar managers calling to schedule a detail have no idea if the officer that will be sent has opted out of the union. The City "Hall of Shame" case proved Walsh's aides demanded union hiring, something not possible in the case of police details.

A non-partisan web site that focuses on conservative opinions.

Even if flaggers are paid $50 an hour (what cops on details earn I believe) imagine how many people with low skills could be earning a decent income. A income that can help them pay their own way to develop more skills.

Fishy, why do you want to deprive people with low skills from earning a decent living? The brave police already have full time jobs. Awfully selfish of them to demand that they take jobs that low skilled unemployed people can do.

OK perhaps the two city employees didn't get a handful of $100's to stuff into their underwear*1,2 as was the case of recent miscreants caught by the Feds -- and not by the local yokel DA, nor Massachusetts erstwhile Attorney Generals

Nonetheless the two recent felons [they have been convicted so they are no longer alleged]-- were working not for the City and its citizens -- their employer --- but instead they were working on behalf of the Unions. These are the same Unions that provide the foot soldiers to insure the reliable reelection of the politicians -- that is the ultimate criminal act.

What the US Attorney and not the Suffolk County DA or Massachusetts Attorney General recognized is that City Employees are not paid to work on behalf of Unions whether private or public sector. The US Attorney recognized that what the two miscreants did was steal from the taxpayers of the City [and the Commonwealth and US through various transfers] -- how they did it isn't important.

This is just corrupt behavior at the city level -- where the mayor's aids have absolute authority -- as Lord Acton said -- "absolute power corrupts absolutely"*3

So much for Winthrop's "City on a Hill"*4 -- perhaps he was referring to a Landfill

*1 from
about State Rep. Dianne Wilkerson

Mass. Pol Accused of Stuffing Bra With Bribes
Photographs released by U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan showed Wilkerson stuffing 10 $100 bills into her bra at No. 9 Park restaurant last June. During another meeting with an undercover FBI agent two months later, Wilkerson took her granddaughter to accept a $1,000 kickback at the Fill-A-Buster restaurant, a famed political hotspot directly across the street from the Massachusetts State House, according to a 32-page affidavit filed in the case.

A federal complaint charges that Wilkerson accepted eight bribes totaling $23,500 over an 18-month period in exchange for her influence on Beacon Hill.

*2 from wiki about Boston City Councilor Charles "Chuck" Turner

On August 3, 2007, Turner was videotaped by FBI informant Ronald Wilburn, accepting $1,000 cash from Wilburn in Turner's district office in exchange for pushing for a liquor license for the Roxbury nightclub Dejavu. On November 22, 2008, Turner was arrested and charged with attempted extortion under color of official right......

On December 9, 2008, Turner was indicted by a federal grand jury on three charges of making false statements and a charge of conspiracy with former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson, all stemming from an FBI public corruption investigation. Turner was found guilty of the false statement and bribery charges by a jury on October 29, 2010.....

On January 25, 2011, Turner was sentenced to three years in prison. In imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said that he imposed a long prison term because Turner, in addition to accepting the bribe, had made false statements to the FBI and "ludicrously perjurious testimony" that he could not recall accepting a package of cash.

*3 from

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely" arose as part of a quotation by the expansively named and impressively hirsute John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely....

*4 from the wiki on John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill,” 1630

"A City upon a Hill" is a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14, he tells his listeners, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."

"A Model of Christian Charity"
This scripture was cited at the end of Puritan John Winthrop's lecture or treatise, "A Model of Christian Charity" delivered on March 21, 1630 at Holyrood Church in Southampton before his first group of Massachusetts Bay colonists embarked on the ship Arbella to settle Boston.

Winthrop warned his fellow Puritans that their new community would be "as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us", meaning, if the Puritans failed to uphold their covenant with God, then their sins and errors would be exposed for all the world to see: "So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world".

There was no personal gain here. At most, a financial benefit accrued to a third party (union) to which these two had zero financial ties. To say the benefit was political to Walsh makes a mockery of what federal extortion actually is. This case is a joke.