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Special assistant to Malden mayor charged in sweeping crime ring remains on job

Posted by Your Town  October 22, 2010 10:05 AM

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A special assistant to Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard remains on the job after being listed as one of 30 people indicted Thursday and accused of being part of a sprawling criminal enterprise that engaged in extortion, loansharking, gambling, marijuana smuggling, and violent home invasions.

Charles Toomajian, 53, of Malden, the mayor's assistant who is also a practicing attorney, is accused of being an accessory after the fact to embezzlement, according to law enforcement officials.

Boston attorney Thomas Drechsler, who represents Toomajian, said, "He's innocent of any wrongdoing. He did not commit any crime and certainly did not act as an accessory to any crime.''

Drechsler said he had not been provided a copy of the indictment and does not know the details of the case against his client. He said Toomajian is waiting for a date to be set for his arraignment. He added, "He has a long and unblemished history and he's led an exemplary life.''

Howard said Friday he will meet with the Malden City Council in executive session Tuesday to discuss Toomajian's employment status.

Toomajian will continue to work and be paid until a determination has been made, Howard said.

The mayor will meet Tuesday with the 11 city councilors privately to discuss the case, since matters concerning a public employee's reputation or character, or charges brought against a public employee, are exempt under state open meeting laws.  

"I will have further information after that meeting," said Howard, who declined to answer additional questions.

Toomajian made $83,774 in 2008 as a special assistant to the mayor, records show. He attended a neighborhood crime watch meeting in Malden Wednesday night.

Reached by phone Thursday evening, Malden City Council President Paul J. DiPietro expressed shock after being told of the charges against Toomajian. Dipietro said he's known Toomajian for more than 20 years, the last six professionally during DiPietro's tenure on the council.

"Holy moly," DiPietro said. "I can't believe it, tell you the truth. I'm speechless. I'm totally shocked, totally shocked, and like I said, I really, really can't believe it."

DiPietro said that before working as a special assistant to Mayor Howard, Toomajian served as city solicitor for about 10 years.

"I've known Charlie for a long time. I've known him for 20 years or so, maybe even more," DiPietro said. "He always seemed like he was an honorable man, upstanding, a good family man, to the best of my knowledge. I'm totally amazed at the charges here. I certainly hope they're not true."

The charges against the suspects were announced yesterday by Attorney General Martha Coakley and others.

The alleged leader of the criminal enterprise was identified as Mark Rossetti.

Rossetti, an East Boston resident, is already in custody on drug trafficking charges. Now he faces allegations that he led the ring and its 30 members, all of whom were charged today for allegedly committing crimes throughout Eastern Massachusetts, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

The investigation, which was conducted by troopers assigned to the Massachusetts State Police Special Services Section, involved the execution of 30 search warrants and the seizure of $1.3 million in cash from extortion cases, $120,000 in alleged drug money, more than a kilo of heroin, a heroin press, 200 pounds of marijuana, a pipe bomb, two bulletproof vests, a rifle, a loaded handgun, a fake Uzi machine gun and five motor vehicles.

Read more about the case here.

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