Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff
A federal judge today sentenced Patrice Tierney, the wife of Democratic US Representative John F. Tierney, to 30 days in jail for aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns.
"There must be an actual sanction," US District Judge William G. Young said in imposing the sentence, noting the importance of protecting the tax system, which depends on citizens' voluntary compliance. Patrice Tierney must begin serving her sentence on Feb. 28.
Young also ordered Tierney to serve two years of supervised release, the first five months of which she will spend on house arrest.
Tierney pleaded guilty in October to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false returns for her brother, a federal fugitive who has been indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering.
Tierney originally agreed to a plea deal offered by prosecutors that called for two years of probation with 90 days of home detention, plus a $2,500 fine and $400 in court costs.
But Young warned her at an October hearing that he need not abide by that deal. By pleading guilty, Young warned her, she was accepting responsibility and the possibility of a heavier sentence.
Young said today he wanted to impose "actual jail time." While a federal prosecutor argued that Tierney had suffered enough because of the publicity given to the case -- her husband successfully ran for reelection in the fall -- Young noted that a 30-day sentence would be normal in such a case.
Law enforcement officials said Tierney's brother, Robert Eremian, ran a large-scale illegal gambling business in the United States from the early 1980s through the beginning of 2010. State Police raided his Lynnfield office in 1996, leading Eremian to move the business's headquarters to Antigua, but the business continued underground in Massachusetts, Assistant US attorney Fred M. Wyshak Jr. told the court in October.
Patrice Tierney began overseeing her brother's Massachusetts affairs after he returned to Antigua. Between 2003 and 2009, prosecutors charged, she managed a banking account that collected more than $7 million in illegal gambling profits. Over that time, prosecutors allege, Patrice Tierney paid bills for his three children and their ailing mother, balanced the account, and provided information to his tax preparer, resulting in false tax filings, prosecutors said.
Young also ordered Tierney to cooperate with the IRS and provide all the necessary financial information to determine the tax liabilities of her brother.
Tierney will be allowed to leave her house arrest for work, to attend religious services, go to medical appointments, and care for her mother, the judge said.
Tierney's attorney, Donald Stern, emphasized his client was "not charged with money laundering. She's not charged with being part of the business." And he described her as someone "who has lived a good life, who is a good person, and who has made this mistake and for that she is forever embarrassed and sorry." He also said his client had no plans to appeal the case.
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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