July 13, 2024

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Mass. stamp of approval

Mass. stamp of approval
By Natalie Sherman | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Politics

PEN PALS: City Councilor Chuck Turner, convicted of taking a $1,000 bribe and lying to the FBI, is the focus of a supportive letter-writing campaign.
Photo by Ted Fitzgerald

Letters and petitions with hundreds of signatures asking a federal judge to go easy on convicted City Councilor Chuck Turner have arrived at the U.S. District Court in Boston, echoing Turner’s plea that he didn’t do anything wrong and should be allowed to stay free and in public office.

“He’s a good man who may have to spend 20 years in jail. He is a good man who really is not a criminal, not even a white collar criminal,” insisted Lincoln resident Cynthia Ritsher, 76, a member of the Alliance for Democracy, confirming for the Herald that she sent a letter of support. She was one of a number of activists from outside Turner’s District 7 to speak up for him.

Last month, a jury convicted Turner of taking a $1,000 bribe and lying to the FBI. The case was part of a broader corruption sting in which former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson pleaded guilty. Turner is due to be sentenced Jan. 25 and could face more than 20 years in prison.

As of yesterday, four letters and seven copies of a petition with a total of 265 signatures had been filed asking Judge Douglas Woodcock to give Turner probation so that he can continue to serve on the City Council.

“I just think that this is way out of proportion,” letter-writer Alison Gottlieb, 63, of Jamaica Plain, a member of Dorchester for Peace, told the Herald. “Giving people jail time for something like this is a waste of taxpayer money.”

Turner has served on the Council since 1999. He has said he will not step down before his term ends next year, despite pressure, including Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s call for his resignation.

The City Council will hold a hearing Dec. 1 to determine whether or not to expel Turner from the board. Turner has said he will not run for re-election.

Many of the supporters reached yesterday said they don’t know Turner personally or even live in his district, but had collaborated with him on prison reform and peace initiatives through local activist groups.

“He has done a tremendous job for the Roxbury district,” said Lizella Reed, 70, of Dorchester, who signed one of the petitions. “I don’t live in that district but I’ve seen the results … All my friends are very pleased with him. They have voted for him over and over again, as has my grandson.”

Supporters also said they believed the FBI targeted Turner because he is black.

“It’s interesting that the two people he tried to get hold of are Chuck and Dianne Wilkerson, who are both black,” Ritsher said. “That whole racism bit that’s always there.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1296394

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