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Former Speaker DiMasi To Also Face Extortion Charge

This article is more than 9 years old.
Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, left, leaves federal court, June 2, 2009, with his attorney Thomas Kiley after DiMasi was indicted on federal corruption charges. (AP)
Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, left, leaves federal court, June 2, 2009, with his attorney Thomas Kiley after DiMasi was indicted on federal corruption charges. (AP)

Federal prosecutors have added extortion to the list of charges facing former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi in connection with an alleged public corruption scheme.

Prosecutors previously alleged DiMasi and three associates rigged lucrative state contracts for software company Cognos in exchange for payments, with the former speaker allegedly pocketing $57,000.

A superseding indictment (PDF) unveiled late Tuesday adds the extortion charge, alleging DiMasi accepted payments from Cognos and a second member of the scheme knowing the payments were in exchange for DiMasi taking official action to help the Burlington, Mass.-based company and the associate.

“An extortion charge is extremely serious,” said David Frank, of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. He added, “It’s a penalty that carries up to 20 years in prison. It alleges in this case that payments were accepted illegally as part of a scheme to accept money under the table.”

The indictment also includes new charges that DiMasi sought to steer contracts to a property management company started by Richard Vitale, a close associate who is also charged in the case.

DiMasi’s lawyer, Thomas Kiley, said the revised indictment is a response to his motion to dismiss some of the government’s claims. “What the government has done is buttress some of those claims by re-characterizing them,” he said. “We will plead not guilty and we will prove our case in court.”

This program aired on October 13, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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