Lurking Over the Horizon

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As the summer slumber descends on Beacon Hill, where sub-10 minute legislative sessions with just a handful of attendees is currently the norm, a September wake-up call awaits.

Former Speaker Sal DiMasi, who was reelected to that post with 135 votes out of a possible 160 despite ongoing ethics violations, is due to be sentenced on September 8th.

The prosecution is currently seeking 12.5 to 15.5 years for DiMasi’s sentence, a pretty serious number when you consider that he’s 65 years old. In the background of this case lurk the sentences given to Diane Wilkerson and Chuck Turner, who got 3.5 years and 3 years respectively for lesser offenses than DiMasi. Many observers will be watching to see if DiMasi’s sentence exceeds that of the two African-American politicians.

A long sentence would also send a strong message to DiMasi’s former colleagues who seemed to have missed the gravity of the situation (and previous corruption scandals). If you doubt that they’ve missed it, look no further than DiMasi’s codefendant, Richard McDonough. He actually went to Beacon Hill to lobby on behalf of clients during recesses from the trial.

As we lurch from scandal to scandal – Probation Department and the Merrimack Valley mess being just the latest (and McDonough’s deep in that one too) – one hopes the shock of seeing DiMasi sentenced will open some eyes.

Crossposted at Boston Daily.