Michael E. McLaughlin, disgraced Chelsea housing chief, arraigned on state charges; plea talks continue
Disgraced former Chelsea housing chief Michael E. McLaughlin, who collected a kingly salary while neglecting the needs of his low-income tenants, was arraigned today in Suffolk Superior Court on state campaign finance charges as his attorney and prosecutors continued to negotiate a plea deal.
McLaughlin pleaded not guilty to 12 charges before Trial Magistrate Gary Wilson. Both prosecution and defense said plea talks were underway. A plea hearing was scheduled in the case for this afternoon, but a spokesman for the attorney general’s office said McLaughlin was not expected to plead.
A state grand jury indicted McLaughlin last week for the campaign finance violations, including unlawful solicitation by a public employee.
He has already been sentenced in federal court to three years in prison for lying to state and federal regulators about his $360,000 salary. He is expected to begin his sentence soon.
Two people briefed on the negotiations told the Globe last week that he may plead guilty to the state charges in exchange for a sentence of probation to be served after his federal prison term ends.
In court today, attorney Thomas Hoopes said his client would be in federal prison soon and asked that the judge, in scheduling McLaughlin’s next hearing, consider whether McLaughlin will be available.
Wilson slated the next hearing for Oct. 24, saying a trial, if there is one, should be held within nine months. McLaughlin was released on personal recognizance. He had no comment as he left the courthouse with his attorney.
The indictment last week came the same day that former lieutenant governor Timothy P. Murray agreed to pay $80,000 to settle charges that he collected $50,000 in illegal campaign contributions, including tens of thousands of dollars solicited by McLaughlin.
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