Boston Developer Pleads Guilty To Campaign Charges

A well-known Boston real estate developer pleaded guilty Tuesday to secretly channeling campaign contributions to Massachusetts politicians in an attempt to win funding for a large development project in the city.

Arthur Winn, 72, of Brookline, admitted he violated election laws by reimbursing other people — mostly family members — for donations he solicited for political campaigns, concealing the true source of the money.

During a hearing in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Winn pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of making campaign contributions in the name of another for $3,500 in contributions made to U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of South Boston and $1,000 to U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano of Somerville.

Prosecutors alleged Winn made a total of $61,000 in illegal donations, but most were made to state candidates or fell outside the statute of limitations. He pleaded guilty only to the $4,500 given to Lynch and Capuano.

Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 31.

The maximum penalty is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine on each count.

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors have said they will ask for a maximum of six months in prison.

Winn's attorney, Tracy Miner, said she plans to ask for a straight fine, with no prison time. She said Winn has no prior criminal record.

"They're misdemeanor violations, so a fine is a pretty standard penalty," Miner said after the hearing. "Prison time isn't warranted in this case."

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Dowden said Winn made the contributions to "curry favor" for Columbus Center, a proposed $800 million mixed-use development over the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The charges against Winn did not allege wrongdoing by any of the politicians.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Dowden declined to say what size fine prosecutors will ask for when Winn is sentenced. He said the plea agreement allows prosecutors to argue for up to the maximum $200,000.

Miner told Chief Magistrate Judge Judith Dein that Winn has enough money to pay the maximum fine.

"He has adequate funds and he intends to pay the fine on the day of the sentencing," Miner said.

Columbus Center was canceled in 2010 after nearly a decade of starts and stops. At various times, it called for a luxury hotel, condominiums and retail stores.

This article was originally published on November 08, 2011.

This program aired on November 8, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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