WBUR

Turner Awaits Sentencing, But Not Without A Fight

BOSTON — Former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner heads to court Tuesday afternoon to find out whether he will be going to prison.

A federal jury convicted Turner last October of accepting a bribe from a Boston developer and knowingly making false statements to FBI investigators. On Tuesday, the government will ask the judge to send him to prison for at least 33 months, arguing that Turner more than earned the stiffer sentence after he was convicted.

Turner has never stopped proclaiming that he is the victim of a witch hunt, to his supporters outside City Hall and in the court house, to his fellow councilors who voted to expel him, to everyone who would listen and to those who didn’t want to.

“What I’m saying to you brothers and sisters is that that conviction is rotten,” Turner said.

Turner said he was the victim of a widespread top-to-bottom FBI/Department of Justice conspiracy to shut him up because he’s a black agent for change.

Turner isn’t going quietly. He’s said he was the victim of a widespread top-to-bottom FBI/Department of Justice conspiracy to shut him up because he’s a black agent for change.

“We know this city will only have integrity when the working class people of all races come together,” he said.

Now comes sentencing, and the federal prosecutors are telling the judge it’s time for Turner to pay the piper. They argue that since his conviction in October, “Turner has falsely promoted distrust of federal and local law enforcement, the criminal process, this court, and the jury.”

And Turner’s “incendiary campaign,” the prosecutors say, shows no acceptance of responsibility, a key factor judges consider in sentencing a defendant.

But defense attorney Harvey Silverglate, who has no connection to the case, is a persistent critic of the Department of Justice. He said federal prosecutors are overreaching once again.

“It is your constitutional right to plead not guilty,” Silverglate said. “What the government is doing in this sentencing memorandum is suggesting that Turner, for insisting he is not guilty, should be punished extra severely. That’s highly improper.”

At his trial, Turner took the stand in his own defense, against the advice of his attorney. He testified that he couldn’t remember, didn’t recall, his meeting with the cooperating witness who allegedly gave him a $1,000 bribe.

Turner’s testimony was considered a disaster that led to his conviction. Prosecutors call it “perjury” and want the judge to punish and thereby “condemn Turner’s contempt for the court as an institution.”

“Well, the government claims it is perjury. However, it is perfectly understandable how somebody like Turner, who sees in some days dozens of people, would not remember seeing Wilburn,” Silverglate said.

Ron Wilburn is the cooperating witness who is seen passing something green, presumed to be the money, to Turner on a video he secretly recorded for the FBI in 2007.

By accusing him of perjury at trial, the government is trying to get the judge to increase Turner’s sentence.

But did Turner make false statements knowingly, as the prosecution alleges, when he testified he had no memory of meeting the witness let alone taking the money? Did he do so with the specific intent to obstruct justice?

That’s the problem.

“He would be punished for simply not being able to recall. It is really an outrageous penalty for testifying at one’s own trial,” Silverglate said.

Turner isn’t going quietly. Even though the government said the prison sentence should fall between 33 to 41 months, Turner’s taken every advantage of proclaiming his message. Even as his defense team asks the judge to sentence him to supervised probation without prison time, Turner is suggesting the FBI has a program to “target and eliminate black officials.”

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  • John

    Turner has been a longtime critic of FBI infringement on civil rights. So its no surprise they are out to get him. After 25 years of public service in which he has consistently taken the side of his constituents and declined to sell out to wealthy real estate interests, they want to send him to jail for an FBI-engineered money transfer that Turner never solicited. (Read the FBI affadavit and you’ll find that despite all their attempts to lure Turner into asking for a bribe, they could not elicit a single word from him that was improper. So they finally had to just tell their informant to shove some cash into his hand so they could get a picture.) Every politician on Beacon Hill accepts cash donations. But Turner is the one they are working hard to send to jail for a single incident that they interpret in a way that is out of keeping with his entire career. This is how the secret police work in countries around the world, and its a shame to see the same tactics used in America.

  • Amyh

    The conviction of Chuck Turner is a legal lynching.

    There was no proof that he accepted money (the video showed only that
    he had something put into his hand, but there is no proof that it was
    money– and it is easy to doctor a videotape with current technology)

    There was no proof that he did anything more for the Ron Wilburn than
    he would have in his advocacy for anyone in his district, thus no
    quid pro quo.

    Why are our tax dollars going to support FBI witch hunts?

    Shame!

    • http://twitter.com/KingCast Christopher King

      Here’s some interesting footage from yesterday.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTm8z8UgYsg

      U.S. AG Ramsey Clark, former AAG KingCast.net and 700 support letters show the targeted, racist prosecution and sentencing of Chuck Turner in vivid detail.

      I will say this right now and directly to Judge Woodlock and everyone else involved, particularly the prosecutors who ignored my questions: If you seriously think that Chuck Turner deserves more jail or prison time than John Buonomo who orchestrated hundreds of thousands of dollars of theft from actual taxpayers you need your individual and collective heads examined. More.

      Ditto John Forbes, who got PROBATION.

      Ditto Nick Mavroules, 15 months for all of his criminality.

      Meanwhile, as to the Herald….. it’s lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit….

      http://christopher-king.blogspot.com/2011/01/kingcast-review-of-boston-herald.html

      Later guys.

  • Shirley Kressel

    At the trial, Turner’s attorney played a secret FBI recording of Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, in which she says about Turner: “He would be good, if you needed somebody . . . to go pick up a ruckus and just protest for you. You want to get something done . . . that’s not what he does.’’

    Page 3 of the FBI agent’s affidavit on Turner describes a secret recording of a conversation between Wilkerson and the informant, Ron Wilburn, in which they are talking about “how little Turner had done to assist the club to date.”

    The informant told the Boston Globe, “Chuck is naive. The only thing I said to him was, ‘Take your wife out to dinner.’ It’s conceivable that it could have been a gift or a campaign contribution….Dianne is a thief. Chuck isn’t. Dianne knew better. Chuck is a victim of circumstance.”

    These statements should have exonerated Turner of any charges of sale of office in return for a bribe. Yet, none of this seems to have entered the deliberations.

    Yes, an undocumented amount of money — but unsolicited and unexpected money, for which no favor of office was provided in quid pro quo — was put in his hand and he didn’t return it, constituting acceptance of a gift that might have been (and even that was not proven) over the legal $50 limit — not a felony but an ethics violation.

    AG Martha Coakley totally exonerated Mayor Tom Menino’s aide, Michael Kineavy (Wilburn’s contact at the Mayor’s Office), for systematically deleting thousands of official emails, including emails that might have incriminated the Mayor in this very case, clearly and grossly violating the Public Record Law, because she decided he showed no “criminal intent.” Why was this criterion not applied to Chuck Turner?

  • Dcadigan01

    Chuck Turner is right –this whole targeting of him by the FBI is beyond the pale.

    Chuck is no mobster or robber. He is a fine and dedicated public servant. And
    shame on the Mayor and City Council for not standing up for him before his ac-
    cusers. (What cowardly people they have shown themselves to be…)

    So why are the FBI targeting Chuck and paying someone 20-30 times the alleged
    bribe (of a thousand dollars) they have accused hiim of taking to rattle on him
    and asking the judge to lock him up? Except as he said to stop him as an agent of
    change in the city.

    Well, I say this targeting of Chuck needs to stop by the FBI and the judge in this
    case should place Chuck on probation as he has suggested and allow him to go
    on with his life…..Dee

  • Rozz992000

    This Buffoon was finally caught. He thought he was above the law, and to make him the lowest of the lows, he played the race card. Boston gave him a good life and this is how he repays us. Good riddance Con man!

  • Crleja

    Unfortunately you neglected to point out that when the gentleman that allegedly bribed Councillor Turner suggested that he conduct the sting operation with other City Councillors, the Federal prosecutor said no. That they only wanted to and targeted the two councillors, Ms. Wilkerson and Mr. Turner certainly lends credence to the belief (reality) that the prosecution was motivated by a desire to specifically “get at” these two councillors

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