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Carlos Henriquez appears before House Ethics Committee

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Carlos Henriquez appears before House Ethics Committee
State Rep. Carlos Henriquez was handed a two-and-a-half year sentence with six months of jail time in an assault case.

Jailed state Rep. Carlos Henriquez returned to the State House in handcuffs twice in the last week to appear before the House Ethics Committee — the first step in the Legislature’s process to strip him of his seat.

Media was not allowed in either of the one-hour closed-door sessions, but Henriquez’s attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, met with reporters outside the committee meeting Friday to confirm that Henriquez maintains his innocence and plans to appeal his conviction.

Also last week, the co-chairs of the Ward 15 Democratic Committee sent House Speaker Robert DeLeo a letter requesting that the Legislature expedite a special election to replace Henriquez.

But Henriquez has not said whether he plans to resign.

Ed Cook, one of the co-signers of the Ward 15 letter, said Henriquez’s six months of jail time will leave the district without representation at a critical time.

“I’m not judging Carlos’s guilt or innocence, but he will be absorbed in defending himself for months if he appeals,” he commented. “During that time he will be unable to represent the district in any sort of meaningful way. If he continues to represent us while he’s incarcerated, then we will have no voice in the budget, we will have no voice in planning for our district, no voice who people can go to with ideas for the district.”

Henriquez has not said whether he plans to step down. DeLeo and Gov. Deval Patrick have both called on him to do so.

Henriquez was sentenced this month to two-and-a-half-years with six months in prison on two counts of assault and battery. The six-person jury found him not guilty of a third count of assault, one of larceny and one of witness intimidation. The charges stemmed from a July 2012 incident where Henriquez met with Katherine Gonzalves in a rental car near her mother’s house in Arlington.

Henriquez has denied the charges and maintains his innocence. His attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, says that if Henriquez appeals the verdict, the appeal process may take longer than the six months he’s due to serve in prison.

While Henriquez contends with the Ethics Committee, activists in his district are rumored to be planning for a special election. So far, just one potential candidate has gone public, Karen Charles, the chief of staff at the state’s Department of Telecommunications and Cable.

Cook said the most important thing for residents of Henriquez’s district is to have representation as soon as possible.

“If Mr. Henriquez were to put the needs of his district ahead of his own, we would be free to have a special election and elect someone to represent us,” he commented.