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Jury Enters Deliberations In Boston Calling Extortion Trial

In this 2015 file photo, Kenneth Brissette faces reporters during a news conference in Boston. Brissette and Timothy Sullivan face corruption charges. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
In this 2015 file photo, Kenneth Brissette faces reporters during a news conference in Boston. Brissette and Timothy Sullivan face corruption charges. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

A federal jury entered deliberations Tuesday afternoon after attorneys gave closing statements in a federal extortion trial involving two Boston City Hall aides. The two men are accused of pressuring Boston Calling festival operators to hire union labor.

In closing arguments, prosecutors earlier Tuesday told jurors Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan broke the law by pushing for union labor with the organizers of the annual music festival previously held at Boston City Hall Plaza. They argued the requests were viewed as a political favor to Mayor Marty Walsh.

The government referred to testimony from the president of the labor union International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Colleen Glynn. She said in court she talked to the aides about getting a contract for the festival.

After the contract was signed, Glynn wrote a "thank you" email, recognizing the aides' actions as payback for supporting Walsh's campaign, according to the prosecution.

Defense attorneys argued in their closing arguments that the aides' actions were not wrong and referred to Judge Leo Sorokin's jury instructions on the law. The judge instructed jurors to bear in mind that it is not wrongful for public officials to favor their supporters.

The jury must now decide whether Brissette and Sullivan broke the law when they approached festival organizers Crash Line Productions in 2013 and again in 2014 about hiring union workers for the event. Crash Line initially declined but reversed course just three days before the festival after failing to secure needed city permits for Boston Calling.

The required permits were granted after the festival organizers agreed to hire union workers, according to the indictment in the case.

Prosecutors have argued the company relented because it feared losing out on future contracts if they didn't meet Brissette's and Sullivan's request. Defense attorneys have maintained neither Brissette nor Sullivan controlled the permitting process, and the pair were just trying to lock in high-paying jobs for workers.

This segment aired on August 6, 2019. The audio for this segment is not available.

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Jerome Campbell Twitter Reporter
Jerome Campbell was a WBUR Poverty and Justice Fellow whose reporting was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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