BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for former state House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi say three years in prison is enough punishment for his conviction on corruption charges.
The defense sentencing recommendation, filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, is significantly lighter than the 12 1/2 years sought by prosecutors.
DiMasi, 66, was convicted in June on charges he used his clout as speaker to steer two lucrative state contracts to a software firm in exchange for payments.
His lawyers, in their sentencing memo, say he “derived a very small personal benefit from the offense” and has a long record of dedicated public service.
“Mr. DiMasi did not devote his life to becoming Speaker of the House so he could abuse his office,” attorneys Thomas Kiley and William Cintolo say in their memo. “His offense was completely out of character and an aberration when compared with the rest of his life.”
They say the circumstances of the offense “strongly suggest that Mr. DiMasi does not require a lengthy incarceration to prevent him from committing another offense.”
DiMasi, a Democrat who resigned in 2009, was found guilty of conspiracy, extortion and theft of honest services by fraud. He plans to appeal.
DiMasi’s sentencing memo contains excerpts from numerous letters written on his behalf to U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, who’s scheduled to sentence him Sept. 8.
The letters, from family members, friends and lawmakers who have worked with DiMasi, describe him as compassionate, hardworking and generous.
Maryann Calia, DiMasi’s former chief of staff, described how he once used his own money to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for people who had lost their homes.
Prosecutors, in their sentencing memo, filed earlier this week, say DiMasi deserves a lengthy sentence because he was an elected public official with significant authority whose offenses involved multiple bribe payments.
Prosecutors said DiMasi used his position as one of the most powerful politicians in the state to make sure that the Cognos firm received the software contracts. They said DiMasi received $65,000 in payments funneled through a law associate.
Cognos was not charged in the scheme and has since been purchased by IBM.
DiMasi’s lawyers said the payments were legitimate and weren’t made in exchange for official actions by DiMasi.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)