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Lawyer charged with trying to bribe cop in marijuana case

A Massachusetts lawyer has pleaded not guilty to federal charges after he allegedly tried to bribe the Medford police chief to get help in opening a recreational marijuana dispensary on behalf of a client.

Court records say that Somerville attorney Sean O’Donovan, 54, pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday to three counts stemming from his efforts to win an agreement that would allow the client to open a marijuana dispensary in Medford. He was released.

The client was unaware of O'Donovan's efforts, the Justice Department said in a Friday news release announcing the charges.

“Mr. O’Donovan did not bribe a public official, he did not discuss bribing a public official, and that the charges against him constitute an unprecedented extension of federal criminal law that we intend to vigorously challenge in the courtroom,” O'Donovan's attorney Martin Weinberg said in a Saturday email.

Prosecutors say that in February 2021, O’Donovan approached a “close relative” of the Medford police chief and offered to pay $25,000 to speak with the chief about the client’s anticipated application to open a marijuana business in Medford. The chief immediately alerted federal authorities.

Prosecutors say that over the next few months O'Donovan met with the relative, described in court papers as Individual 1, to discuss the plan.

“The only problem for Mr. O’Donovan is the FBI was listening in on every single one of those meetings he had with Individual One,” First Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Levy told reporters on Friday.

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