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Salvatore F. DiMasi


In office
September 28, 2004 – January 27, 2009
Governor Mitt Romney
Deval Patrick
Preceded by Thomas Finneran
Succeeded by Robert DeLeo

Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 3rd Suffolk district
In office
January 1979 – January 27, 2009

Born August 11, 1945 (1945-08-11) (age 64)
North End, Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Boston College

Suffolk University Law School

Profession Lawyer

Salvatore F. "Sal" DiMasi (born 1945) was a state representative in Massachusetts. The former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives originally joined the state legislature in 1979, as a member of the Democratic Party. He eventually resigned from this post in January of 2009, just six months prior to being indicted on several Federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud. DiMasi is the third consecutive Massachusetts house speaker to be federally indicted.[1]

DiMasi went to college at Boston College and studied law at Suffolk University Law School. He was born and raised in the North End of Boston, home to Boston's Italian American community for over 100 years. He was the Commonwealth's first Italian-American to be elected speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Contents

Early life and education

Salvatore F. DiMasi grew up in a cold-water flat in Boston’s North End where he lived with his parents Celia and Joseph DiMasi, his two brothers, and Italian immigrant grandparents. DiMasi graduated from Christopher Columbus High School (1963) and went on to earn a BS in accounting from Boston College (1967), and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School (1971).[2]

Professional career

From 1974-1976, DiMasi served as a Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney. During the same period, DiMasi co-founded the North End Neighborhood Task Force, with neighborhood activist Emile Pugliano, to address issues of zoning, gentrification and crime in Boston’s North End. He also opened a private law practice, focused on criminal defense cases.

In 1976, DiMasi ran for state representative against three term incumbent O. Roland Orlandi (D-North End). DiMasi’s 1976 state representative campaign was unsuccessful. Two years later, DiMasi ran again for the third Suffolk County state representative seat--and won. In 1979, DiMasi took office as state representative.

Since taking office in 1979, DiMasi has served as chairman of the committees on Banks and Banking, the Judiciary and Criminal Justice. He eventually rose to among the ranks to become Assistant Majority Whip, Majority Whip and Majority Leader. In September 2004, DiMasi was elected Speaker of the House.[2]

Healthcare reform

Soon after becoming Speaker of the House, DiMasi sponsored legislation to make quality health insurance available and affordable to every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth. DiMasi worked with legislative leaders and a coalition of diverse stakeholders, from the health care and business community, to craft Massachusetts’s landmark health care law. In April 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed the first-in-the-nation universal health insurance bill into law. As a result of the law, Massachusetts reduced the number of uninsured adults by nearly half within the first year of mandatory health coverage and increased the percentage of people receiving routine preventive care, according to the first major study of the 2006 law conducted by the Urban Institute.[3][4]

Casino gambling

In 2007, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick submitted a bill that would allow the construction and operation of three resort-style casinos in the state. He argued that these casinos would generate $2 billion for the state economy and add $400 million in annual casino revenue and $200 million in fees per license to the state coffers as well as add $50 million to $80 million in sales, meal, and hotel taxes. He also touted that the casinos would create 30,000 construction jobs and 20,000 permanent jobs.[5][6]

Patrick's proposed that the revenue generated would be spent to beef up local law enforcement, create a state gambling regulatory agency, repair roads and bridges ($200 million), gambling addiction treatment ($50 million) and the remainder would go towards property tax relief.[7][8]

DiMasi strongly opposed the plan, questioning the governor's job and revenue projections, and was opposed to what he referred to as a casino culture, saying: "Do we want to usher in a casino culture -- with rampant bankruptcies, crime and social ills -- or do we want to create a better Massachusetts for all sectors of the society?"[9][10]

On March 20, 2008, the Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected Patrick's casino bill by a vote of 108 to 46.[11] Despite the overwhelming vote, questions were raised by critics of DiMasi as to the tactics he used to win. These included allegations that he promised a subsequent vote on a bill that would allow slot machines at the state's four racetracks and the pre-vote promotions of six lawmakers who had been thought to support the bill, but either abstained or voted against the bill. DiMasi denied that any promise had been made on the race track bill and denied that the promotions were connected to the casino bill vote.[12][13][14]

Ethics charges

According to the Boston Globe "DiMasi and three of his close friends and associates are the subjects of the Ethics Commission probe and other investigations relating to large payments the associates received from Cognos ULC..." an IBM owned company based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with a United States headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. The Globe also said that "One of the associates, Richard Vitale, DiMasi's accountant, also accepted payments from ticket brokers who were seeking to gut state antiscalping laws." The contracts in question, a $4.5 million dollar contract for the State Board of Education and a $13 million dollar contract for the State Information Technology division, were rescinded after the alleged Ethics violations came to light. IBM, which did not own Cognos at the time of the alleged payoffs, has refunded all paid monies. On December 17, 2008, the Boston Globe confirmed a Federal Grand Jury probe had been launched investigating the charges.[15]

On June 2, 2009, DiMasi and three others were indicted. The charges included conspiracy, honest services fraud, mail fraud, aiding and abetting, and wire fraud.[16]

On October 13, 2009, federal prosecutors added a count of extortion to the charges against DiMasi. With the added charge, DiMasi faces a possible 185 year sentence if convicted on all counts in the indictment. He has plead not guilty to all charges.[17][1]

Resignation

On Sunday, January 25, 2009, DiMasi sent a letter to all members of the House informing them of his resignation from both his position as speaker of the House and his seat in the House, effective at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, January 27.[18] His resignation makes DiMasi the third straight Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to leave office under a legal or ethical cloud.[19] In 1996, then speaker Charles Flaherty resigned after being charged with income tax violations, and in 2004 then speaker Thomas Finneran resigned amid a federal perjury investigation.[20] DiMasi was indicted on corruption charges on June 2, 2009.[21]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Dave Wedge and Laurel J. Sweet (2009-10-14). "New Sal DiMasi shocker". Boston Herald. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/20091014new_sal_dimasi_shocker_ex-pol_slapped_with_extortion_rap/. Retrieved 2009-10-15.  
  2. ^ a b Paul McMorrow (February 2008). "King Sal". Boston Magazine. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/king_sal/. Retrieved 2008-11-07.  
  3. ^ Alan Greenblatt. "The Deal in the Details". Governing Magazine. http://www.governing.com/poy/2006/dimasi.htm. Retrieved 2006.  
  4. ^ Kevin Sack (2007-09-18). "Study Finds State Gains in Insurance". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/health/policy/03health.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2008-06-03.  
  5. ^ David L. Ryan. "Casinos considered for state". Boston Globe. http://boston.com/business/gallery/topstories2007?pg=21. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  6. ^ Frank Phillips and Andrea Estes (2007-09-18). "Governor predicts a jackpot: Millions targeted for road, bridges, property tax relief: Proposal is hailed, faces turbulence on Beacon Hill". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/09/18/governor_predicts_a_jackpot/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  7. ^ Matt Viser (2008-03-06). "Patrick sends lawmakers brochure lauding casino plan: Softens figures on job creation". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/03/06/patrick_sends_lawmakers_brochure_lauding_casino_plan/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  8. ^ Andrea Estes (2007-10-10). "Homeowners could get casino payout: Patrick bill to share windfall via tax cut". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/10/10/homeowners_could_get_casino_payout/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  9. ^ Sean P. Murphy (2008-03-04). "DiMasi scoffs at casino job plan: Says governor's bid 'losing credibility'". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/04/dimasi_scoffs_at_casino_job_plan/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  10. ^ Steve LeBlanc (2008-03-13). "DiMasi dismisses Patrick casino claims as "just rhetoric"". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/03/13/casino_supporter_says_bill_has_only_outside_chance_of_passing/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  11. ^ Matt Viser (2008-03-21). "House rejects casino bill; backers vow to roll again: Racetracks, unions, tribe pursue strategies". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/03/21/house_rejects_casino_bill_backers_vow_to_roll_again/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  12. ^ Glen Johnson (2008-03-21). "Charges of deals promised, fulfilled and broken in casino debate". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/03/21/charges_of_deals_promised_fulfilled_and_broken_in_casino_debate/. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  13. ^ Casey Ross (2008-03-22). "Pols tapped by Sal changed vote on casinos". Boston Globe. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/politics/view.bg?articleid=1082009. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  14. ^ Casey Ross (2008-03-22). "DiMasi’s deep six". Boston Globe. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/politics/view.bg?articleid=1082011. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  15. ^ Cognos Deals Face Federal Scrutiny December 17, 2008
  16. ^ [1] Boston,
  17. ^ Andrea Estes and Matt Viser (2009-10-14). "Case against DiMasi grows". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/10/14/case_against_dimasi_grows/. Retrieved 2009-10-15.  
  18. ^ Sal Dimasi (2009-01-25). "DiMasi's letter to colleagues". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/25/dimasis_letter_to_colleagues/. Retrieved 2009-02-01.  
  19. ^ Bayles, Fred (June 8, 2009). "How Will We Find Out?". BU Today (Boston University). http://www.bu.edu/today/node/8994. Retrieved June 8, 2009.  
  20. ^ Aaron Wasserman and Dan McDonald (2009-01-27). "DiMasi departure sets off power struggle". MetroWest Daily News. http://www.wickedlocal.com/ashland/news/x1722733600/DiMasi-departure-sets-off-power-struggle. Retrieved 2009-02-01.  
  21. ^ "Ex-Speaker DiMasi, 3 others indicted on corruption charges". http://bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/2009_06_02_Sal_DiMasi_associate_ordered_to_federal_court/srvc=home&position=0.  

External links

Preceded by
Thomas Finneran
Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
2004–2009
Succeeded by
Robert DeLeo
Preceded by
William P. Nagle, Jr.
Majority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
2001-2004
Succeeded by
John H. Rogers
Preceded by
O. Roland Orlandi
Massachusetts State Representative for 3rd Suffolk District
1979–2009
Succeeded by
Vacant
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