Reporting Karen Anderson
BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A federal jury found former state House Speaker Sal DiMasi guilty of conspiracy, fraud and extortion Wednesday afternoon.
He faced nine counts and was found guilty on seven of them. His attorney Thomas Kiley promised to appeal the verdicts.
Government prosecutors accused DiMasi and two associates of scheming to use his clout to steer two state contracts worth a combined $17.5 million to the software firm Cognos in exchange for payments, with DiMasi pocketing $65,000.
The defense argued the payments were legal referral fees.
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“This is an intent crime. I knew that I did not have the requisite intent to commit this crime,” DiMasi told reporters outside the court house.
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.
“We think the jury didn’t get it right,” Kiley said.
“I still believe they’ve never had enough evidence,” DiMasi added. “I believe that they didn’t prove their case.”
“I was a legislator who did the best I could. I made alot of decisions, I helped alot of people, I would never have any second thoughts running for office… We still have an appeal and I think we can have a good change of winning so we have alot of hope.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Lana Jones reports
Lobbyist Richard McDonough was also found guilty of six counts of fraud and conspiracy, but the jury cleared DiMasi’s other associate, accountant Richard Vitale, on all counts.
A fourth man, former software salesman Joseph Lally, pleaded guilty before the trial and testified against the others.
The complex case went to the jury late Monday after more than five weeks of testimony and a lengthy set of jury instructions from the judge.
Watch: Raw Video: DiMasi Reacts To Verdict
They deliberated for about ten hours.
Sentencing was scheduled for August 18. Until then, DiMasi’s travel is restricted to within the six New England states.
The most serious counts against DiMasi carry a maximum 20 years in prison. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said she’d seek “significant jail time” for DiMasi.
“Justice has been served and the culture of corruption on the Hill has been dealt another blow,” she said.
Ortiz says this should send a message to politicans and the people they serve.
“The voters put an enormous amount of trust in Mr. DiMasi and he betrayed that trust when he chose to conspire with his friends, and use his office to line his pocket and theirs. Mr. DiMasi paid the price today for his decision to abuse the power for his own financial gain, and that of his friends,” Ortiz said.
His family broke down in tears as the verdicts were read. DiMasi looked straight ahead, then turned to hug his crying wife and stepdaughter.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Bernice Corpuz reports
DiMasi is the third Massachusetts speaker in a row to quit under an ethics cloud.
He became speaker in 2004 after Thomas Finneran resigned during a federal investigation. Finneran pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for lying during a redistricting lawsuit.
Finneran had succeeded Charles Flaherty, who left office after pleading guilty to a tax charge.
Current House Speaker Robert DeLeo released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he was “angry and disappointed” and promised to work to restore the public’s faith in public servants.
“Today’s news delivers a powerful blow to the public’s trust in government. I don’t think I can imagine anything more damaging than the idea that the defendant’s conduct was nothing other than ‘business as usual’ on Beacon Hill. This was definitely not business as usual – and it is a slur on every hardworking public servant to suggest otherwise.
“One of the things that I find most disturbing – and the thing I am most committed to changing – is the public’s view of politicians and public sector employees. This conviction makes that job no easier.”
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson contributed to this report.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)