- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UPDATE:

Massachusetts State Senator Dianne Wilkerson has been arrested on corruption charges after she was caught in a sting operation that included surveillance photographs of her stuffing $100 bills into her bra.

She was released after a brief appearance in U.S. District Court late in the afternoon yesterday without responding to reporters’ questions.

Ms. Wilkerson, a Boston Democrat, accepted eight bribes totaling $23,500 from undercover law enforcement officers and a cooperating witness, according to the FBI.

In a defiant statement released Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Wilkerson said she is innocent and vowed to stay in the race. Ms. Wilkerson, an eight-term incumbent, is running as a write-in candidate having been defeated in September’s Democratic primary.

She attacked U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan for bringing the charges so close to the election. She accused Mr. Sullivan, a Republican, of seeking to “imperil” her reelection bid and of putting “the state’s Democratic leadership back on its heels.”

“While there is great curiosity about the particulars of my case, I am not at liberty to discuss them for obvious reasons,” she said. “For those of you who must be thinking ‘there has to be more to this story,’ of course there is. But it is not a story that I am able or willing to lay out in the press.”

Ms. Wilkerson appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boston and remains free on a $50,000 non-surety bond.

Authorities say the joint operation between the bureau and Boston Police Anti-Corruption Unit had a cooperating witness who was involved with a nightclub pay Ms. Wilkerson $8,500 to obtain a liquor license.

In exchange for the bribe, according to the FBI, Ms. Wilkerson pressured the city licensing board, the Mayor and city council to issue the liquor license. She is accused of holding up legislation to increase the salaries of the licensing board.

According to the FBI, she “ultimately introduced legislation to increase the number of liquor licenses available in Boston, and then manipulated the timing of that legislation at the request of undercover agents.”

Ms. Wilkerson is also charged with taking $18,000 from two undercover agents posing as out-of-state business men interested in developing a piece of state-owned property.

According to the FBI, Ms. Wilkerson “filed the legislation and was pressing their interests with the House of Representatives and the Boston Redevelopment Authority as recently as last week.”

This isn’t Ms. Wilkerson’s first brush with the law.

In 1997, she pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns and received two years probation, according to court records. She ended up violating probation and spending time in a halfway house.

Story Continues →