Former Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi makes the longest ride of his life beginning late in the evening the 29th or in the early morning on the 30th.
He is heading to Lexington, Kentucky, where, on the 30th, he will present himself at the Federal lock-up, give himself up, and begin an 8 year sentence behind bars.
He will likely make the trip himself or he may be accompanied by a friend. It is hard to know this and none of us who know him would be inclined to ask.
When he presents himself at the prison entrance, whatever worldly goods he has carried will be taken from him. He will be ushered inside the complex into a brave new world he never imagined existed – and certainly not a world he ever imagined himself living in.
For intents and purposes, thus will end for quite some time the public life of Sal DiMasi.
Of course, his public life has been over for quite some time or at least since he was indicted more than 2 years ago and taken through the ringer by FBI investigators, by the legal team of prosecutors in the Federal Court House and by IRS officials.
His conviction in Federal court some months back and then his sentencing more recently ended the first act of this American tragedy.
Once the government got its hands around DiMasi, it didn’t let go.
Months and months of investigations were followed by his indictment.
That indictment was followed by DiMasi’s lawyers lame defense.
But then, when you come right down to it, Sal was guilty and so defense as we know it in the court system was near to impossible.
There was nothing for jurors to hang on to in order to find him not guilty.
Absent of that, Sal went down for the count.
His house of cards came tumbling down upon him and a few others closely involved.
He knew it was coming. His lawyers knew it was coming.
Everyone did the best they could and then they prayed.
He was at the very pinnacle of his career when he told Governor Deval Patrick about 3 years ago, “Over my dead body,” with regard to casino gambling in Massachusetts.
The governor never forgot that during the long investigation period that followed his indictment and which came before.
Although the governor says he feels for Sal, we can only imagine what he really thinks about a mercurial North End legend who ended up going to Federal prison, one of the most disgraced public officials of our time.
If Sal had stayed within the legal limits and rules of engagement as required of our public officials, he wouldn’t be making this lonely, excruciating trip to the Federal lock-up in Kentucky.
Had he kept to the straight and true rather than spend himself into oblivion and then make deals that went way beyond what is allowed for public officials in order to make up the difference, we could understand.
We could understand him overspending. We can appreciate the Speaker using his power to his advantage. We could understand him filing for bankruptcy. But he lost us when he stole, when he came out of the trench he had been living in and ran into powerful machine gun fire thinking he would escape injury.
Sal DiMasi was always a good guy for those of us who know him. As bad men go, he isn’t a bad man.
Two things happened to him on the way to the Federal lockup in Kentucky.
He stole and he got caught.
The rest is all about tragedy.