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Galluccio resigns, issues apology

Vows to fight judge’s decision to jail him

By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / January 6, 2010

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State Senator Anthony D. Galluccio, a repeat drunk driver who is currently jailed because he failed a court-ordered breath alcohol test, resigned from the Legislature last night with a brief letter in which he apologized for his role in an October hit-and-run car accident but insisted that he has not had a drink since that time.

Galluccio, 42, Cambridge Democrat, said he intends to fight a judge’s decision Monday to jail him for a year for violating the terms of his probation by consuming alcohol. Galluccio has insisted that he failed the breath alcohol test because of an ingredient in his toothpaste.

“I want to apologize for my actions in early October, and I accept full responsibility for them,’’ Galluccio wrote in his resignation letter, which was addressed to Senate President Therese Murray. “I want thank you for your candid conversations which helped narrow my focus to eliminating alcohol permanently and pursuing counseling and treatment.’’

In Cambridge, where many of Galluccio’s constituents had said he should resign, the senator’s decision was greeted with relief.

Councilor Craig A. Kelley, who served with Galluccio on the City Council, said the senator made “the right decision for him to make, and I’m proud of him for making it.’’

“It must have taken a lot of guts to resign,’’ Kelley said. “This was something Anthony wanted to be for a very long time, and he was very good at it, even in the face of some serious problems.’’

James Rafferty, a Cambridge lawyer and former School Committee member who has known Galluccio for two decades, also praised the decision.

“I think it’s the proper thing to do, and I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision, but, in light of the circumstances, it makes sense,’’ he said. “I hope some day he can get this behind him. He did a lot for people, and he needs to get this issue resolved.’’

Murray said in a statement that she had received the letter from Galluccio, who is serving his sentence at the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica. The letter was released to the news media by Rasky Baerlein, a public relations firm specializing in crisis communications that is representing the lawmaker.

“Senator Galluccio has made the right decision today for himself, his family, the Senate, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,’’ Murray said. “With his resignation, he can begin to face difficult personal challenges, and I hope he receives the services he needs to help him along the way.’’

Under the Senate’s rules, Murray can now either call a special election or allow the seat to remain vacant until the regularly scheduled election in November.

Galluccio had been under mounting pressure from his colleagues to resign, and his decision spares him an expulsion proceeding in the Senate. Senators said they had been planning today to order the Senate Ethics Committee to begin investigating Galluccio’s conduct and to make recommendations to the full Senate that he be either censured, suspended, or expelled.

The last time the Senate expelled a member was 1977, when Joseph J.C. DiCarlo, a Revere Democrat, refused to resign after he was convicted of extorting a payoff from a consulting firm.

Galluccio, a former mayor of Cambridge, is the third Democratic state senator to resign in disgrace in the last two years. Dianne Wilkerson of Boston resigned after she was photographed by federal authorities allegedly stuffing cash bribes under her shirt, and J. James Marzilli Jr. of Arlington resigned after he was charged with accosting four women in Lowell.

Galluccio’s resignation marked a crushing turn for a senator who had been a longtime force in Cambridge, but whose career was overshadowed by driving accidents and alcohol-related problems. “My decision today is not out of hopelessness but rather one of hope and opportunity,’’ Galluccio wrote. “In the end, I make this decision out of admiration and respect for each and every one of my Senate colleagues.’’

In his letter, Galluccio said he will appeal the court’s finding that he had violated his probation by drinking alcohol “on the strongest possible terms.’’

He asked his colleagues to support his appeal and reiterated the assertion he made in court Monday that he has not consumed alcohol since he drove his car into the back of a minivan carrying a family of four in Cambridge last October, injuring a 13-year-old boy, before fleeing the scene. A police report showed that Cambridge police had given Galluccio a ride home 13 hours before the crash because a restaurateur believed he was too drunk to drive.

In an interview before Galluccio resigned, his sister, Lo, said the family firmly believes that her brother’s toothpaste caused the positive reading on the breath-testing machine. Lo Galluccio pointed to a scientist who testified in court Monday that hair and urine samples indicated that the senator had been abstaining from alcohol during his house arrest.

“A great injustice was done to my brother,’’ Lo Galluccio said. “I also know how strong and resilient my brother is and how much he cares about his career and his constituents. For that reason, no matter what happens, we’re on his side, and we’re positive he’ll weather this.’’

Meghan Irons of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com.