The complaint alleges that:
• In exchange for payment, Wilkerson pressured the Boston Licensing Board, the mayor and the City Council and held up pending legislation in the Senate, including legislation increasing the salaries of the Boston Licensing Board.
• Wilkerson ultimately introduced legislation to increase the number of liquor licenses available in Boston, and then manipulated the timing of that legislation at the request of undercover agents.
• Between June 2007 and March 2008, Wilkerson took $8,500 in cash payments from an undercover agent and a cooperating witness to assist in obtaining a liquor license for the Déjà Vu nightclub in Roxbury.
• Wilkerson proposed that an undercover agent, posing as an out-of-state businessman, become involved in the development of a piece of state property in Roxbury.
• Wilkerson proposed legislation that directly designated a property to a private entity for development in order to avoid the ordinary bidding process.
“Citizens place extraordinary trust in those [they give] the greatest authority, and with that authority comes the obligation to act with fairness and honesty,” Sullivan said. “The allegations against Senator Wilkerson are unconscionable, and the citizens of the Commonwealth deserve honest and faithful services of their elected representatives — uncompromised by secret payments of cash.”
Wilkerson’s attorney, Max Stern, suggested the released surveillance photos do not tell the entire story.
“I’m sure you know there is a context to every one of the interactions you have been told about. There is something that happens before and there is something that happens after that has not been included in what you have been shown,” he told reporters after the hearing.
Tuesday’s arrest was the most serious in a sting of ethical and criminal violations committed by Wilkerson during her 15-year tenure as state senator.
Just last week, the state Bar Counsel filed a complaint against Wilkerson accusing her of lying under oath in an effort to overturn her nephew’s voluntary manslaughter conviction. The penalty could include disbarment.
Over the years, she has also faced accusations of failing to account for donations and personal reimbursements, failing to pay federal income taxes and failure to properly report consultant fees she received from a bank that she lobbied for.
The latest investigation was triggered by a person who later became a cooperating witness against Wilkerson. The unidentified person told the FBI that Wilkerson “routinely took cash payments from constituents” and others having business before the Senate, according to the complaint.
The witness also told the FBI that he was present for two such bribes to Wilkerson.
Convinced that the individual was credible, the FBI and the Boston Police Anti-Corruption Unit launched an undercover investigation in May 2007.
Despite a number of legal and ethical charges throughout her term, Wilkerson remained popular in her Boston district and was supported in her primary bid by Menino and Patrick.
The governor issued a statement today calling the allegations against Wilkerson “troubling and sad.”
Senate President Therese Murray, who has campaigned with Wilkerson in the past, said she was seeking an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. Murray also said she would seek to have Wilkerson removed from her post as chairwoman of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.
Senate Republican Leader Richard Tisei called on her to resign.
Menino, who said he was briefed by the FBI on the case yesterday, said today, “It’s a very sad day.”
Following their arrest of state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson on Tuesday morning, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents released a 32-page affidavit detailing the charges of public corruption that the 15-year incumbent now faces. You can read the full affidavit laying out the government's case here. NOTE: The affidavit is presented in PDF format, and Adobe Reader is required to read it. You can download the latest version here.
"The Bay State Banner has always endorsed [state Sen. Dianne] Wilkerson's achievements, even
though her administrative irregularities were troubling," the Banner wrote in its Oct. 30, 2008 editorial. "But now, Wilkerson has been arrested by the FBI and Boston police,
and stands charged with the felony of extorting payment from
constituents for official services ... It is evident
that Wilkerson has breached the public trust. Consequently, the Banner
can no longer support Wilkerson for public office." More »
"The Bay State Banner has always endorsed [state Sen. Dianne] Wilkerson's achievements, even though her administrative irregularities were troubling," the Banner wrote in its Oct. 30, 2008 editorial. "But now, Wilkerson has been arrested by the FBI and Boston police, and stands charged with the felony of extorting payment from constituents for official services ... It is evident that Wilkerson has breached the public trust. Consequently, the Banner can no longer support Wilkerson for public office." More »