Tag Archives: Michael McLaughlin

The Odd Tango of Michael McLaughlin and the US Attorney

It seems that the strange charisma of Mike McLaughlin, which has caused otherwise unsentimental prosecutors to swoon, held no charms for federal Judge Douglas Woodlock. Despite the odd alliance of defense counsel and US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s Office pleading for a light sentence (USAO asking for a slightly tougher punishment), Judge Woodlock slammed the Prince of Chelsea Housing with three years. (If he wanted to be really harsh he could have sentenced the felon housing chief to three years in one of the apartments he let rot).

Case closed. Except I still wonder: what does Mike McLaughlin have on prosecutors in this state?

I have to rely here on what has been reported but let’s review the US Attorney’s representation of McLaughlin (excuse me) pleas for leniency for McLaughlin (excuse me) prosecution of McLaughlin.

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Prosecutors and the Unrepentant

Yesterday Lt. Governor Tim Murray announced he would resign to take a $200,000 per year job with the Worcester Chamber of Commerce. This would suggest that Murray and the Chamber believe he is at little risk of being indicted by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz or Attorney General Martha Coakley for campaign finance violations he may have committed along with felon Michael McLaughlin, former head of the Chelsea Housing Authority.

McLaughlin in turn will walk or serve a very short sentence on his federal plea deal and is not likely to face any state time for campaign finance violations. Our score card would read: Prosecutors get publicity for corruption crusades, McLaughlin and Murray walk. Can that be right?

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The Charmed Mike McLaughlin

Sunday’s Boston Globe story on Michael McLaughlin reminds me again of the oddity of the proceedings against him. Usually prosecutors offer a soft deal to a lesser criminal figure so he’ll turn on a bigger fish. In McLaughlin’s case US Attorney Carmen Ortiz seems willing to go soft on the whale to reel in a few guppies.

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Cunningham’s Hierarchy of the Prosecutable

The psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote of the hierarchy of human needs and recently we have had pretty good indications of the hierarchy of the prosecutable in our system of justice. So let’s see who gets the time, and who gets to do the crime.

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Prosecutions: High Profile, Low Return

I published an article The Crimes and Punishments of Michael McLaughlin in CommonWealth Magazine the other day that I hope you will read. Here are some key points and additions to it.

One aspect of the case I find very troubling is that the Office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz traded a recommendation of no time or minimal time for McLaughlin because he is willing to offer evidence, apparently about illegal fund-raising practices involving Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray. That is pretty standard stuff for a prosecutor’s office, to trade a lighter sentence in exchange for a bigger fish. But here is my problem, as stated in The Crimes and Punishments of Michael McLaughlin:

When asked by US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock what McLaughlin’s motive was, the assistant US attorney replied, “It was money.” Contrast the outcome here with what the late Aaron Swartz was facing from Ortiz’s office: six months in prison for making public academic papers. His motive was free access to information, not to score pelf. Apparently greed is good. Alas, Swartz had no pol to trade.

This is justice?

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Campaign Finance: the New Brown Paper Bag?

I’ve had a hypothesis for a while and not enough time to do the research to test it, but here goes anyway: whereas in times past the greatest danger of political corruption was the straight out bribe, these days it is the fattening of campaign finance accounts. Lt. Governor Tim Murray is the latest politician to run afoul. The campaign finance account is the new brown paper bag.

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