Federal prosecutors urged a judge to send Chuck Turner to prison for a minimum of 2 years and 9 months in a scathing sentencing memorandum that used the former Boston City councilor's own words against him.
Arguing that grandstanding at rallies and in the news media "amplified the crimes," the six-page document quoted Turner 11 times. Turner described his prosecution as a "witch hunt," called the US Constitution an "illegal document," dismissed photographs of him accepting a $1,000 bribe as doctored, and argued that the government was trying to take him down because "they saw the power of communities of color rising up."
"From the day he was confronted with his crime, Turner has engaged in an incendiary campaign of misinformation, obfuscation and blame," read the memorandum, filed Thursday and signed by John J. McNeil, the assistant US attorney who led the successful prosecution of Turner. "As the trial revealed, Turnerís vitriolic campaign was ultimately an act of profound narcissism, in which he sacrificed the best interests of his community in a fraudulent attempt to claim the mantle of an honest public servant."
The memorandum urged Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to follow federal guidelines when he sentences Turner on Tuesday. According to the prosecution, that requires a prison term of 33 to 41 months, which is a maximum of almost 3 1/2 years behind bars, followed by three years of supervised release.
A jury convicted Turner in October of four felonies for accepting a $1,000 bribe and lying about it to FBI agents. Turner's criminal attorney did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Prosecutors have argued that Turner should face such a substantial sentence because he perjured himself 15 times on the witness stand. During the trial, Turner repeatedly said he had no memory of ever meeting Ronald Wilburn, a Roxbury businessman working as a paid undercover witness for the FBI. Turner continued to make that claim even as prosecutors played a surveillance video of him meeting with Wilburn and accepting what the businessman testified was a wad of money.
Turner's attorneys have not filed their own sentencing memorandum, but the judge has received dozens of letters from Turner's constituents pleading for leniency because of his decade of service as an elected official.
Still, prosecutors maintained that Turner's recent legal efforts belie "the core assertion in the letters submitted -- that he is a selfless public servant, motivated by the public good." Instead Turner has "sought to deprive his former constituents of representation on the City Council," prosecutors argued, "while he delayed and otherwise maneuvered his criminal sentencing."
Separately, Turner has filed a civil lawsuit seeking to stop a special election to fill his former seat because he argued that the City Council lacked the authority to kick him out of office when they expelled him on Dec. 1.
Turner's criminal attorney also sought unsuccessfully to delay his sentencing. If Turner is sentenced to prison, state law will automatically remove him from office, rendering his civil suit moot.
The attorney who filed the civil suit, Chester Darling, bristled at the suggestion that he conspired with Turner's criminal lawyers, saying that he did not know about the request to delay the sentencing until it had been rejected. Turner filed the civil suit on behalf of his constituents, Darling said, because the City Council overstepped its authority and set a dangerous precedent.
"The US attorney is doing the equivalent of kicking the guy when he's down," Darling said. "Shame on them."
The sentencing memorandum also included a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation on June 5, 2007, between Wilburn, former state Senator Dianne Wilkerson, and a third unnamed individual on the day Wilkerson accepted the first of $23,500 worth of bribes.
Turner's attorneys played the recording during the trial to show he was not close to Wilkerson, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges. But prosecutors cited the transcript to undercut the letters to the judge by raising "substantial doubt about Turner's effectiveness as a public servant." The entire transcript follows below.
WILKERSON: 'Cause I think Chuck is crazy.
WILBURN: No, he is crazy. Chuck Turner. He is crazy. I mean he's living in the nineteen sixties. He thinks Chairman Mao is still alive. Communist Manifesto. You know? (Laughs)
WILKERSON: He drives me batty. He really does.
WILBURN: You know Chuck, the lit...? The guy with the beard?
UNNAMED INDIVIDUAL: Yeah.
WILKERSON: He would be good, if you needed somebody who, you needed to go pick up a ruckus and just protest for you, I would hire him. You want to get something done? He's not the p..., that's not his, he doesn't know...
WILKERSON: That's not what he does.
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