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Sentencing of ex-Mass. state senator postponed

8/24/2010, 9:18 p.m.

       Sentencing of ex-Mass. state senator postponed

      The sentencing of former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson on corruption charges was postponed Friday by a judge concerned about pretrial publicity affecting the trial of a Boston city councilor.

      Wilkerson had been scheduled for sentencing Sept. 20 after pleading guilty in June to eight counts of attempted extortion.

      U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock said he would postpone her sentencing to late November or early December, after the corruption trial of City Councilor Chuck Turner scheduled to begin Oct. 12.

      Wilkerson was accused of taking $23,500 in bribes to help get a liquor license for a nightclub and an undercover agent posing as a businessman who wanted to develop state property. She was captured on video stuffing bribe money into her bra.

      Turner is accused of taking $1,000 from a businessman working with the FBI who said he needed help getting a liquor license. He has pleaded not guilty and is asking the public to help in his defense.  

      In a note to supporters and ads in community newspapers Turner said he is looking for witnesses to testify at his trial.

      In his note, Turner said his lawyers plan to put on the witness stand those who can testify regarding help received from him and whether money ever was a factor in his service.

      Turner’s lawyer says his client never solicited or asked for anything in exchange for representing his constituents.


      Large fire burns at Boston warehouse; no one hurt

      A huge fire has burned an abandoned industrial complex in Boston.

      No one was hurt in the blaze, which firefighters said was bigger than any they had seen in 20 to 30 years.

      Fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald says crews were called to the fire in the city’s Roxbury neighborhood just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The blaze was so large that officials called in 160 firefighters from around the city to battle it.

      Boston District 7 Fire Chief Erik Pettaway recently updated a firefighting plan for the long-abandoned complex. Part of the plan called for firefighters to stay out of the building. He was pleased the plan was followed, because sections of the building collapsed.

      Firefighters poured water on the building all night and are still dousing it. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

      Mass. Gov. signs postpartum depression bill

      Gov. Deval Patrick has given final approval to a bill designed to help new mothers struggling with postpartum depression.

      The law requires Massachusetts health insurers to submit annual reports on their efforts to screen for postpartum depression.

      The legislation also calls on the Department of Public Health to develop regulations and policies to address postpartum depression including creation of public and professional education programs and the use of screening tools.

      It also creates a special commission to come up with policy recommendations to prevent, detect and treat postpartum depression.

      The bill received final approval from the Legislature on Aug. 10.


      Boston sheriff says she’ll reconsider ICE deal

      Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral says she has agreed to try to resolve communication issues that led her to cancel a lucrative federal contract to house immigration detainees.

      Last week’s cancellation notice, released by Cabral on Friday after it was reported in Boston newspapers, complained of a “staggering lack of communication and respect” from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It said a recent federal report faulting medical care of a detainee who died last year was given to the media before it was provided to jail officials.

      Cabral said she wants to be told of problems in “a timely manner.” ICE had said it was reviewing the notice. A message was left seeking further comment.

      ICE pays the sheriff’s office about $10 million a year to hold immigrants awaiting deportation or other proceedings.

      47 immigrants arrested in 4 New England states

      Federal immigration officials say a three-month operation in four New England states has led to the arrest of 47 people suspected of being gang members or having ties to gangs.

      U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Harold Ort said on Friday that many of the suspects had histories of violent crimes including attempted murder, car jacking, assault and battery with dangerous weapons, assault to rape and possession of firearms.

      The suspects were detained in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

      The operation targeted foreigners and those born abroad. They will appear before immigration judges, but their criminal status renders them removable from the country within 10 business days.


      Mass. unemployment rate remains at 9 percent

      The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains at 9 percent, but state officials also say the latest figures for July show six straight months of job gains.

      The state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced last week that there was an increase of 13,200 jobs in July, most in the leisure and hospitality area, but also in transportation and utilities jobs, manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical services.

      The state agency said the Massachusetts economy has added 60,200 jobs since December.

      Government jobs were down by 6,000, mostly continuing cuts in the number of temporary federal Census workers.

      The state unemployment rate remains below the national average of 9.5 percent, which also was steady for July.