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Ex-Sen. Wilkerson To Plead Guilty In Bribe Case

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, caught on video allegedly stuffing bribes into her sweater and bra, has agreed to plead guilty in a federal corruption case.

This screenshot allegedly shows former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, stuffing bribe money under her sweater on June 18, 2007, at No. 9 Park restaurant in Boston. (AP/U.S. Attorney's Office)
This screenshot allegedly shows former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, stuffing bribe money under her sweater on June 18, 2007, at No. 9 Park restaurant in Boston. (AP/U.S. Attorney's Office)

In papers filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, lawyers for Wilkerson asked a judge to schedule a hearing for the former Boston Democratic lawmaker to allow her to enter a plea of guilty. The hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

The move heads off a high-profile trial that was scheduled for later this month.

Prosecutors said Wilkerson took $23,500 in bribes to help get a liquor license for a nightclub and for helping an undercover agent posing as a businessman who wanted to develop state property. Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner also is charged in the case.

Messages left Wednesday for Wilkerson's attorney and at U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz's office were not immediately returned.

Wilkerson was arrested in October 2008 after she was caught on an FBI video allegedly stuffing the $23,500 in bribes from an undercover agent under her sweater and inside her bra.

She was charged with eight counts of attempted extortion as a public official and one count of conspiring to extort. She was released on a $50,000 bond.

According to the original complaint, between June 2007 and March 2008, Wilkerson also allegedly took $8,500 in cash payments from an undercover agent and a cooperating witness to help a proposed nightclub in her district, named Dejavu, get a liquor license.

Some meetings to discuss her assistance in obtaining a liquor license and pushing legislation on behalf of the developer took place in the State House, according to the complaint.

She allegedly pressured the Boston License Board, the mayor and City Council on behalf of the nightclub, and delayed legislation that would have increased the salaries of members of the Licensing Board.

Reaction From Beacon Hill:

No one wants to go on record, but the mood is definitely one of relief. The Wilkerson case — along with separate corruption charges against former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi — have put the Legislature in a negative light and have fueled anti-incumbent sentiment. With Wilkerson pleading guilty, there will not be a trial dominating the headlines this summer — the same time legislators are out on the campaign trail, asking voters to return them to Beacon Hill this fall.

-- WBUR's Steve Brown

"I pushed the envelope farther than it's ever been pushed before," Wilkerson allegedly told the agent.

She also said "I've been beating people up" for action, and spoke of "people who's knees I had to crack," according to the complaint.

She also allegedly accepted $15,000 in payments in exchange for helping an undercover officer posing as a businessman avoid the bidding process to develop state property in Roxbury.

Under a superseding indictment released last year, prosecutors said Wilkerson also took a series of payments ranging from $500 to $1,200 between 2002 and 2006 from a man trying to develop a parcel of land in her district. Wilkerson eventually filed legislation that would have given a long-term lease to the man's company, according to the indictment.

She was subsequently charged with 14 counts of wire fraud related to the new allegations and nine counts of mail fraud related to the previous charges.

Wilkerson resigned from the State House about a month after she was arrested, and following her loss in a Democratic primary election.

Turner was indicted with Wilkerson on five federal charges for allegedly taking $1,000 from a local businessman who was working with the FBI and said he needed the councilor's help in obtaining a liquor license.

This program aired on June 2, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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