Bra-Stuffing Bribe Scandal Probe Grows

Feds question more Mass. officials in corruption investigation of state senator.

ByMichele Mcphee
October 28, 2008, 6:51 PM

BOSTON, Oct. 29, 2008— -- The federal probe into an embattled Massachusetts state senator who was clandestinely videotaped stuffing alleged bribe money into her bra by the FBI has expanded to include three Boston City Council members, the state senate president and several state liquor board officials, ABC News has learned.

On Tuesday, Democratic state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson -- an eight-term incumbent -- was arrested at her Roxbury home and charged with accepting $23,500 in bribes, including 10 $100 bills that she was videotaped secreting into her brassiere during a meeting at a tony Boston restaurant last June.

Hours after her arrest, Boston City Hall was hit with a flurry of subpoenas and FBI agents assigned to the public corruption unit interviewed City Council President Maureen Feeney and Councilor Chuck Turner.

Feeney's spokesman, Justin Holmes, denied she had done anything wrong.

"The council president's motive in seeking additional liquor licenses is clear: She believes strongly that new licenses bring economic benefit to neighborhoods of the city who need them. That's why she sent legislation to the State House," Holmes said. "We have now learned that the senator's motives may have been quite different."

Turner could not be reached for comment on his meeting with the FBI agents.

FBI agents also interviewed Mayor Thomas M. Menino at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, but he was told "he was not a target," his spokeswoman Dot Joyce told ABC News.

Subpoenas were also served to officials at the state's Alcohol Beverage Control Commission that named Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray; Feeney; Turner and former City Councilor Felix Arroyo, who lost his bid for reelection last year, two law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Arroyo could not be reached for comment.

The city's liquor licensing commissioner Daniel Pokaski was also named; along with ABCC chairman Eddie Jenkins.

Pokaski declined to comment on the investigation. Jenkins was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

According to a 32-page affidavit released by investigators Tuesday, Wilkerson boasted that she was "arm-twisting" and "knee-cracking" city and state officials.

"I pushed this envelope further than it's ever been pushed before,'' Wilkerson allegedly told an undercover FBI agent in a recorded phone call, according to prosecutors.

Republican state Sen. Scott P. Brown has called on Wilkerson to resign. She is the second Democratic state senator in Massachusetts arrested this year. In June, state Sen. James Marzilli was arrested and charged with sexually accosting four women in Lowell. He remains in the Senate as he awaits trial, but has said he will not seek reelection.

"This is a black eye to the entire state,'' Brown said. "She should step down immediately. This incident has tarnished the Senate as a whole.''

Wilkerson's attorney Max Stern said Tuesday that his client was innocent and accused one of the U.S. attorneys handling the case of trying to "character assassinate" Wilkerson by bringing up her past problems with the Massachusetts attorney general and campaign finance officials during court proceedings.

The ongoing investigation around Wilkerson's alleged paid-influence scheme coincides with a separate Department of Justice investigation centered on a pension abuse scandal in the city's fire department. That investigation led to an FBI raid on Boston's City Hall earlier this year.

The FBI and DOJ are investigating whether disability pensions that entitle an injured firefighter to 100 percent of his pay tax free for life were legitimate. A Boston retirement board physician, Dr. John Mahoney, is under investigation.

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