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Former Massachusetts House Speaker DiMasi's Convictions Upheld

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on August 26, 2013 3:55 PM

There once were four men: Joseph Lally, businessman, Richard W. McDonough, lobbyist, Richard Vitale, financial advisor and (now former) Speaker of the House of Representatives Salvatore F. DiMasi. Allegedly, Lally paid DiMasi to look out for his business interests in his political capacity -- let's call it a bribe. The money was funneled through McDonough, Vitale and Steven Topazio (not charged). Vitale was acquitted, Lally plead guilty and cooperated. And then there were two ...

DiMasi and McDonough were convicted and sentenced to eight, and seven years, respectively. They appealed raising a host of issues, but the First Circuit affirmed their convictions and sentences, reports the Boston Herald.

Sufficiency of the Evidence

DiMasi and McDonough were convicted of honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud; DiMasi was also convicted of extortion under color of official right. They raised issues as to the sufficiency of the evidence on all the counts they were convicted on, but the First Circuit was not persuaded. In each instance, the court found there was enough evidence to support the jury's conclusion.

Jury Instructions

Appellants challenged ten jury instructions in all, some individually, and some jointly. Point by point, the First Circuit found no error with the trial court's jury instructions, or in some instances that any error made was harmless.

Evidentiary Issues

DiMasi raised issues with two pieces of evidence: witness testimony and post-conspiracy statements. As to the witness testimony, the court found no reversible error. With regard to the post-conspiracy statements, the court found that "the jury instructions ameliorated any possibility of improper use of the testimony."

Sentencing

Both DiMasi and McDonough challenged the reasonableness of their sentences -- and failed. The First Circuit simply did not find that the district court abused its discretion.

If you're interested in reading a case where appellants raise many issues, which the court summarily rejects because they are all without merit -- this is a case for you. Otherwise, the take away would be this: don't accept bribes, don't pay bribes, obey the law. Pretty simple, no?

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