Down to the Wire

Former Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi.

On September 8, Sal DiMasi will likely learn what his future is going to be about in a Federal courtroom on the Boston waterfront.

Will he remain a free man while his case goes to appeal or will he be immediately ordered to jail?

How many years will he be sentenced to serve?

These are the central questions about his future that are eating at DiMasi as he awaits his rendezvous with destiny in Federal court.

Last week, Federal prosecutors suggested that DiMasi receive 12 years or more as a result of his conviction by a Federal jury on charges that he used his office as Speaker of the House to enrich himself in a costly software deal the state bought into.

He was convicted of making $65,000 on that deal in exchange for using his influence.

We all know the story by now – and it is a sad one that involves DiMasi, a son of the North End and a hero, really, to many, many longtime residents of this neighborhood.

He did not get where he was going being a shakedown artist. He was the real thing – a hard working come from the bottom story about a decent, likeable guy who was raised in humble circumstances here, who educated himself, who worked hard, who became a lawyer and then went into politics ultimately becoming the Speaker of the House and a bit of a political icon among his colleagues in the House.

The prosecutors are suggesting throwing the book at him because, they say, he sold the public trust. He used his office to support a criminal enterprise. He enriched himself using his position as the fulcrum of that illegal action. Instead of running his office in a pristine way following the legal difficulties of his three predecessors, he took the illegal use of his position to new lows.

By all appearances, that is exactly what happened. The jury, prosecutors insist, made the right decision about DiMasi’s complicity in the illegal abuse of his office. They didn’t get it wrong, prosecutors say – and so – he must pay the price and the price is dear.

Prosecutors are also asking for a stiff sentence, they say, because DiMasi is unrepentant. He maintains his innocence. He has failed to apologize for his behavior. By all appearances, he doesn’t get it.

DiMasi’s lawyers filed statements with the Federal court to have DiMasi serve a 3 year sentence. They also said that DiMasi should be made to pay back the $65,000 he was found guilty of taking.

His lawyers said, and with some justification, that DiMasi, for the better part of his time on Beacon Hill, had done much more good than bad and that his sentence should not be the result of the jury’s guilty verdict.

From DiMasi’s point of view, and from his many, many friends point of view, this plea to the court makes sense.

Also, his lawyers have asked that DiMasi remain a free man while his case goes through the appeal process.

It is anyone’s guess what the court will do on September 8.

Judge Mark Wolf, we can be sure, will have studied the requests of prosecutors and of DiMasi’s defense team – and will take careful note of the jury’s decision and the fact that DiMasi remains unrepentant.

Then he will act. For the people of the North End, for DiMasi and for his many, many friends, Judge Wolf’s decision will be a shot heard round the world

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