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Preview of Anatomy of a FrameUp

Reflections from Behind the Wall

June 13, 2011

Dear Supporters,

I was arrested by the FBI on November 21, 2008 at 6:15 a.m. at Boston City Hall where I had served as a City Councilor for 9 years. At 3 p.m. on the same day, I was arraigned before a judge magistrate in Worcester, MA, 45 miles from Boston, on one count of extortion, 3 counts of lying to FBI agents, and 1 count of conspiracy. On October 29, 2010, I was convicted of 1 count of extortion and 3 counts of lying to FBI agents. The conspiracy charge was dropped without explanation. On January 25, 2011, I was sentenced to 36 months in a federal penitentiary. The sentence was based on my conviction on the four counts and the judge's assertion that I had perjured myself when I took the stand to testify in my own defense.

Today I am in my 11th week at the work camp at USP Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, where 130 men convicted of nonviolent financial crimes serve as the work force for the Hazelton prison complex, composed of a women's medium security prison with 1000 inmates and a men's maximum security prison with 1700 inmates. Based on the Bureau of Prison Sentencing Monitoring Computation of 3-31-2011, I will be released on November 2, 2013 if I maintain my good time.

Due to my financial insolvency, I applied for a court appointed appeals lawyer and was fortunate to have the appeals court appoint, Attorney Charles Rankin of the firm of Rankin and Sultan. Attorney Rankin is a prominent Boston appeals lawyer. Based on his reputation, I am convinced he will make an excellent presentation of the appeal. However, I believe I have a responsibility based on my experience with the Justice Department during the last two and a half years to show how U.S. Attorneys and their special police force, the FBI, use their law enforcement powers as well as media and political relationships to eliminate those who they view as a threat or as not cooperating with their political objectives.

I made this promise to my supporters at a rally in front of my Roxbury office on the day before Thanksgiving 2008, a few days after my arrest. I think I have enough objectivity now to effectively make such a presentation. Each week for the next eight weeks, I will send an installment of what I am calling, "Anatomy of a FRAME UP". My purpose is not to prove my innocence. While I am innocent of the crimes of which I was convicted, I understand that regardless of the outcome of my appeal, I will always carry the label of being a convicted felon. 

Fortunately, I have learned through my 48 years of activism that it does not matter what people label you as long as you live by the principles that you believe are appropriate for a civilized society.

I realize that there is a danger in accusing a former member of the Justice Department of what I view as a crime, especially while I am under the control of the Bureau of Prisons, a bureau of the Justice Department. However, I have spent my life urging those who are being oppressed to stand up, speak the truth, and fight the power despite the dangers. I have pointed out that justice can only result when those experiencing injustice loudly and publicly oppose the forces perpetuating it. How can I do less at a time when the "criminal justice system" is so ruthlessly taking away the liberty of my brothers and sisters of all races. We must all do what we can to fight "Prosecutorial Terrorism". It is our responsibility to free our country of this cancer. We owe it to our future generations, particularly those of us who have experienced their terrorism.

What follows are the titles of the eight installments and a brief summary of what will be the focus of each.

Installment I: A Lifetime of Activism:

Since US Attorney Sullivan alleged that my crime was a betrayal of my public trust as an elected official, I feel it is necessary for me to share my background that led to a life time of activism; the nature of that activism; what led me to run for political office at age 59; and how I carried out those responsibilitIes for nine years before I was convicted of being a corrupt public official and removed from the City Council by a vote of my fellow Councilors 11-1 (I couldn't vote).

Installment 2: The Keystone Cops Strike Again:

My arrest was obviously a very serious matter. At the same time, the way they handled the arrest of a 68 year old activist and respected public official seemed to me at the time and today as a scene out of a grade B FBI movie of the 40s. However, it also had shadings of the slapstick comedy of the Keystone Cops movies of the 20s. Their behavior certainly did not seem appropriate for Justice Department officials handling the arrest of a fellow officer of the government.

Installment 3: The Big Lie:

A few hours after my arrest on November 21, 2008, US Attorney Sullivan called a press conference to announce that I had been arrested for conspiring with a black female state senator, Senator Dianne Wilkerson, to extort money from a Roxbury business man, Ron Wilburn,who was trying to obtain a liquor license. However, since US Attorney Sullivan had authorized in March 2007 the hiring of Mr. Wilburn to attempt to entrap the Senator and I, he was obviously lying about the participants in the conspiracy. He was the chief conspirator using the FBI, his staff, and Wilburn to attempt to create a crime around the Senator and i. I believe Sullivan's lying to the media about the background of my arrest is what should be prosecuted as wire fraud. Unfortunately US Attorneys can not be tried for the crimes they commit "under color of law".

Installment 4: A Jury of My Peers:

Less than five hours after my arrest, almost as if synchronized with the US Attorney's press conference, the then President of the City Council, Maureen Feeney, having consulted with Mayor Menino's lawyer, William Sinnott, announced to the press that I was being stripped of all my City Council Committee responsibilities and would be invited to a special meeting of the City Council the following work day when the Council would determine what action to take based on the accusation that I had committed a crime. She backed away from her plan when she saw five hundred of my supporters come to City Hall to attend the meeting that i had requested be open to the public. However, she continued her quest by getting the Mayor hire a lawyer to gather evidence and explore althernatives at $500 a hour. Fortunately, the new Council President Ross rescinded her actions.

Installment 5: What First Amendment?:

Infuriated with the fact that I had been challenging the actions of his office since the day of my arrest, US Attorney Sullivan had Asst US Attorney McNeil file a motion on January 5, 2009 requesting that the presiding magistrate approve a gag order to silence me. The order which the magistrate approved required that all the evidence in the case be withheld unless I signed a gag order saying that I would not publicly discuss anything in the evidence. I refused to sign for the following reasons. First, I was running to retain my Council seat and believed I had a responsibility to my constituents to speak to the issues involved in the case. Second, I believed I had a responsibility to defend my first amendment rights. The third reason was that since the US Attorney had begun the public discussion of my case, by showing alleged evidence of "my crime" to the media, I didn't think that I should be denied the opportunity if I chose. This led to the U.S. Attorney's office withholding their "evidence" from my lawyer for 10 months until I won the election and signed the order.

Installment 6: The Three Ring Circus:

This installment will focus on the trial. Its title does not refer to Judge Woodlock's handling of the trial. I use the term because at a circus, the action takes place in three rings. During my two week trial, there were three elements/rings that served from my perspective as the foundation of my conviction for a federal crime: a)Judge Woodlock's explanation to the jury that while I was being charged with extortion, I did not even have to ask for money in order to be convicted on the charge; b) My decision that as a public official I had to take the stand despite my lawyer and the judge urging me not to do so; and c) The testimony by a liquor wholesaler that if Mr. Wilburn had obtained a liquor license, and if he had opened a club, and had bought liquor from the wholesaler's firm, the alcohol would have to come from out of state. The fact that the alcohol would have had to cross state lines gave Sullivan the opportunity to use his federal powers to initiate a sting regarding the issuance of state liquor license to entrap the Senator and I.

Installment 7: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:

I will use this installment to present the evidence, seen by the jury, that should have convinced them of my innocence. I will present the evidence in the form of a closing argument to the jury. I will also point out in that argument the relevance to my innocence of the fact that U.S. Attorney Sullivan built his public justification for my arrest around the lie that Senator Wilkerson and I conspired to extort money from Mr. Wilburn. How could I be in a conspiracy with the Senator to extort money from Mr. Wilburn when the evidence presented at the trial shows that the FBI instructed Mr. Wilburn to suggest to the Senator that they involve me in the scheme that he was creating to entrap the Senator.

Installment 8: I Warned You:

The jury found me guilty of one count of extortion of $1000 and three counts of lying to federal officials when I told them that I did not recognize their picture of Mr. Wilburn or remember any interactions with him. Despite the fact that I had never been convicted of a crime, either state or federal, other than civil rights protests and had 700 letters of support urging that I be given probation, I was sentenced to 3 years in jail and three years probation. I will use this last installment to show how they used my assertion of innocence before the
trial as well as on the witness stand to justify a sentence that many view as cruel and unusual punishment for a crime I didn't commit.

I debated whether to include an installment on my ouster from the Boston City Council on Rosa Parks Day, December 1, 2010. I have decided to not include it in the "Anatomy......" since it was an action initiated not by the US Attorney and the FBI but by Council President Ross, supported by Mayor Menino and his lawyer, William Sinnott. In addition, my lawyer, Chester Darling who is representing me in my challenge of the legality of the Council ouster, says that the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) at the request of the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Federal Court Mark Wolfe will hear our arguments regarding the illegality of the Council's actions and the erroneous advice of Counsel Sinnott either in September or October. So I will hold any discussion of this until after the arguments before the SJc.

Next week: Installment 1: A Lifetime of Activism
 

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