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Wednesday, January 3, 2007
By Frank Phillips and Shelley Murphy, GLOBE STAFF
Former House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, in an agreement that will allow him to avoid jail time, will plead guilty Friday to obstruction of justice in exchange for federal prosecutorsí dropping perjury charges against him, according to two sources familiar with the deal.
Finneran, who faced 16 to 21 months in prison if convicted on all counts, will serve a term of unsupervised probation and pay a fine to end the long legal battle over charges that he misrepresented his role in the creation of a legislative redistricting map that diluted the clout of minority voters.
Finneran, 56, a lawyer and once-powerful figure on Beacon Hill, will enter his plea before US District Judge Richard G. Stearns. Finneran also has agreed not to seek political office for five years, and his case will be referred to the state Board of Bar Overseers for possible disbarment.
The plea agreement marks a turnabout for Finneran, who had insisted he was innocent and had declared he would not be "losing any sleep" over the federal case against him.
His trial was scheduled to begin Jan. 16.
Posted by the Boston Globe City & Region Desk at 10:53 PM