Salvatore F. DiMasi racked up substantial debt after becoming speaker of the state House in 2004, motivating him to help a Burlington software company win state contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks, according to prosecutors and witness statements in federal court.
Testifying in DiMasi’s public corruption trial, a prosecution witness said today that DiMasi and his wife, Debbie, built up $250,000 in consumer debt as of 2007. That figure does not include the $500,000 mortgage on DiMasi’s North End condominium and the roughly $400,000 on Needham property his family owned, according to the witness, Andrea Roller, an accountant in the US attorney’s office who assists prosecutors in what she called “white-collar crimes.”
Roller is considered a summary witness because she provided an overview of finances.
Of the consumer debt, a rough average of $50,000 was for credit-card debt, for items of recreational use: “Things like restaurants, travel, clothing, that type of thing,” Roller said.
Between 2005 and 2007, Topazio received $125,000 from Cognos for work he did not perform, with the company calling it a retainer fee, according to court records. Of that money, Topazio gave DiMasi $65,000, which prosecutors have called kickbacks for DiMasi’s work to steer two software contracts totaling $17.5 million to Cognos.
Prosecutors say the $65,000 payments from Topazio were just one way DiMasi planned to profit from his ties to Cognos.
DiMasi also received a $250,000 line of credit secured by a third mortgage on his home from Richard Vitale, his financial adviser and a defendant in the case. And, prosecutors allege, he planned to benefit after leaving the House from $600,000 Vitale’s company received for helping in the Cognos deals.
DiMasi, Vitale and lobbyist Richard McDonough face public corruption charges including conspiracy, honest services fraud, and mail and wire fraud.
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