A Middlesex Superior Court judge has ruled that Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria has such a strong likelihood of winning a libel suit against a local newspaper that he is freezing property belonging to one of the paper's owners and its editor in anticipation of as much of $850,000 in damages.
In his order, first reported by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Judge William Bloomer ruled that DeMaria "has demonstrated a likelihood that he will recover judgment, including interest and costs" in his suit against Everett Leader Herald owners Andrew and Matthew Philbin and publisher Joshua Resnek on charges they libeled him in a series of articles accusing him of corruption and sexually assaulting a city worker.
Bloomer specifically ordered a "writ of attachment" for a commercial building at 67 Chelsea St. in Everett that Matthew Philbin - Andrew's son - owns and Resnek's home in Lynn. Philbin purchased the Chelsea Street property for $2.2 million just last month, according to Southern Middlesex Registry of Deeds records.
Bloomer said he felt it necessary to effectively put the properties under court supervision because the paper's insurer, in a separate case, is seeking a judgment that it does not have to pay for any settlement. "The court cannot conclude that the contest liability coverage will be available to satisfy a judgment" should DeMaria win, Bloomer wrote. The paper's insurer says it wants out because "conduct by an insured that is committed intentionally, purposefully, fraudulently, maliciously, and/or knowingly so as to harm another person is excluded under the terms of the Policy."
DeMaria sued the paper and City Clerk Sergio Comelio in October, 2021 after the paper published what he calls "a series of utterly false articles" about him that accuse him of crimes related to a land deal DeMaria and Comelio were once involved in, including: $96,000 Forced Payment to Mayor by City Clerk Raises Questions About Extortion Plot and The $96,000 Disgrace - in which the Leader Herald called for DeMaria's prosecution.
DeMaria said the articles were based on made-up quotes from Comelio, whom he claims never actually talked to the Leader Herald - a claim the paper denies - and are part of a long-standing campaign by the Philbin family, which tangled with him decades ago over rooming houses it owned in Everett back when he was a city councilor on a campaign to improve conditions in local rooming houses.
The paper has countered that while, yes, it has referred to DeMaria as "kickback Carlo," said he is "on the take," and referred to "DCF," or "DeMaria's Crime Family," it did not do so "in a defamatory manner," not when it's talking about a guy it says once showed up at its offices and threatened to put it out of business and who said in his 2021 re-election victory speech that he was "going after a lot of people."