Wilkerson accepted $70,000 in gifts from friends

Associated Press | 1/28/2009, 8:25 a.m.
      Wilkerson accepted $70,000 in gifts from friends

      Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson said she accepted as much as $70,000 from friends and supporters over the past decade without reporting the gifts on her campaign records or tax returns.

      In an interview with the Boston Globe, Wilkerson said she used the money, some of it delivered in cash, to pay mortgage or tax bills.

      Wilkerson, who is awaiting trial for allegedly taking $23,500 in bribes, said the contributions were approved by the state Ethics Commission and were within state and federal laws. She denied ever accepting money in exchange for any official act as a senator.

      State law prohibits lawmakers from accepting money and gifts from people with whom they have official dealings. Campaign donations are capped at $500 a year.

      Patrick: Mass. has asked feds about border tolls

      The governor’s administration has asked federal officials about the possibility of erecting toll booths on major border crossings into Massachusetts from New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island, Gov. Deval Patrick said last Friday.

      They would join existing toll booths on the Massachusetts Turnpike near the New York and Connecticut borders.

      The governor told a statewide public radio audience that federal officials had signaled a willingness to consider the idea. They must approve it because Interstate 93, Route 3 and other roads are part of the federal highway system.

      “If we did that right, it would be possible — possible — to remove all of the tolls inside the Commonwealth,” except for the tunnels leading to and from Logan International Airport, Patrick said.

      New York and New Hampshire already toll people coming from Massachusetts. Massachusetts is considering returning the favor as it seeks to cope with Big Dig debt and other transportation funding priorities.

      State police seize two alligators

      NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH — Police have seized two alligators that were kept in the basement of a North Attleborough home.

      The Sun Chronicle newspaper of Attleboro reports that police went to the home last Wednesday evening to serve a restraining order and learned that alligators were possibly at the site.

      They found the animals, about 2-1/2- to 3-feet in length, and contacted state environmental police, who confiscated the reptiles.

      It is illegal to own alligators in Massachusetts without proper permits.

      Environmental police cited 46-year-old Scott Walsh with illegally possessing alligators.

      A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Environmental Police says the alligators were sent to Rainforest Reptile Shows in Beverly, where they will be kept for rehabilitation before being sent to a wildlife sanctuary in Florida.

      Conn. fire official: No malice in noose incident

      BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Black retired Bridgeport firefighters are calling on the city’s fire chief to take action after a hangman’s noose was found at the department’s headquarters.

      City police are investigating the Jan. 15 discovery of the noose wedged in a doorway as a possible hate crime. State law prohibits placing the symbols of racial hatred on public or private property with the intent to intimidate or harass.

      Acting Deputy Fire Chief James Grace says there doesn’t appear to be any bad intentions.

      But members of black firefighter groups who retired from the city’s department disagree. They say Chief Brian Rooney should be outraged and should make it clear to the entire department that placing nooses and other racist actions will not be tolerated.

      Rooney says he is taking the issue seriously.

      Providence theater group alums earn Oscar nominations

      PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two artists with ties to the Trinity Repertory Company have been nominated for Academy Awards for their work in feature films.

      Former artistic director Richard Jenkins, whose directorship was preceded by a 14-year tenure as a member of Trinity’s resident acting company, was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his performance in “The Visitor.” Viola Davis, who appeared in several Trinity productions, was nominated in the best supporting actress category for her performance in “Doubt.”

      “We’re thrilled that two of our former colleagues are being honored in this way,” said Trinity Artistic Director Curt Columbus in a statement. “Both Richard Jenkins and Viola Davis are world-class talents, and we’re proud to call them a part of our Trinity family.

      “Richard Jenkins, in particular, shaped Trinity as artistic director for four seasons and his work is still felt in what goes on stage today,” Columbus added.

      Jenkins became a member of the Trinity Rep acting company in 1970. He played over 40 roles during his time with the company, and served as artistic director for four seasons. Davis appeared in several shows on Trinity’s main stage, including “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “Measure for Measure,” “Red Noses” and “A Christmas Carol.”

      (Associated Press)