City, News

Bribery investigation snags 2nd politician

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner (Roxbury, Dorchester) was arrested at about 7 a.m. Friday at City Hall, becoming the latest Boston official to be accused of taking bribes.

Turner, who began serving his fifth term on the Boston City Council this year, is accused of allegedly collaborating with former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and taking a $1,000 bribe to obtain a liquor license for the local nightclub Dejavu and making fraudulent statements to the FBI.

Turner was arraigned in Federal District Court in Worcester at 3 p.m. Friday by Judge Timothy Hillman, the same judge overseeing Wilkerson’s case. Turner was released on bond after his hearing.

Turner maintained his innocence after being released and will hold a rally today on the steps of City Hall before a special meeting that will determine his fate on Boston City Council.

Turner’s arrest comes almost a month after the FBI arrested Wilkerson on public corruption and bribery charges through the same joint investigation by the FBI, Boston police and the Internal Revenue Service, which began in May 2007.

On August 3, 2007, an undercover cooperating witness allegedly handed Turner $1,000 in cash in exchange for Turner’s assurance that Dejavu would get a liquor license, according to the 15-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

The C.W. reported saying, ‘You take the wife to dinner and . . . have some fun.’ Turner accepted the money while smiling and nodding his head and said ‘O.K.,’ the affidavit said.

The meeting was audio and video recorded so the affidavit contains both photographic evidence showing Turner accepting a wad of money and audio detailing the conversation.

The undercover witness attempted to give Turner another cash bribe on Sept. 12, 2007, but was allegedly thwarted by Turner’s assistant, who remained with Turner the entire time the witness was with him, preventing the witness from giving the councilor the bribe money.

After Wilkerson’s arrest in late October, two FBI agents met with Turner at his City Hall office to question him about his involvement in the liquor license scandal. Turner admitted to writing a letter on behalf of Dejavu to provide a liquor license to the club, but denied taking any bribes according to the affidavit.’ ‘ ‘

‘If you took out all corrupt politicians, you’d take out 90 percent and be left with us 10 percent,’ Turner said during his questioning, according to the affidavit.

If convicted, Turner faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the attempted extortion charge. He faces an additional five years and a $250,000 fine on the false statements charge.

The announcement of Turner’s arrest forced politicians from the State House to City Hall to cover themselves from political liability.

‘The mayor is surprised and very disappointed about the allegations brought against Councilor Turner,’ Nick Martin, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas Menino, said in a statement. ‘He believes the allegations have cast a shadow over all public offices.’

Following Turner’s arrest, City Council President Maureen Feeney stripped Turner of all of his committee assignments, including his chairman positions on the committees of Education and Human Rights pending further investigation.

‘I remain outraged at the recent disgrace brought to public service,’ Feeny said in a statement released Friday. ‘The public is right to expect more from its elected leaders. We must – and we will – work hard to restore their confidence.’

Feeney also scheduled a special City Council meeting today at 3 p.m. to discuss further action on Turner.

Gov. Deval Patrick refused to comment.

Staff reporter Camille Roane contributed reporting to this article.’

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