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Lawyer: Chuck’s suffered enough Asks judge to spare ex-pol jail time

Lawyer: Chuck’s suffered enough

Asks judge to spare ex-pol jail time

HAVE MERCY: Defense attorney Barry Wilson argued that Chuck Turner, seen above speaking at the Cambridge Friends Center on Saturday, should get supervised release instead of incarceration.
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Monday, January 24, 2011  |  |  Local Coverage
Photo by Christopher Evans

Disgraced former City Councilor Chuck Turner’s lawyer is begging for mercy for his client, saying hard time will leave the convicted bribe-taker with no means of supporting himself and no time to rebuild his lost retirement.

Attorney Barry Wilson said Turner’s conviction on public corruption charges and his expulsion from the City Council has dealt the 70-year-old a “catastrophic” financial blow. The fallen civil rights crusader — whose pocketing of a $1,000 bribe to grease the skids for a proposed nightclub in Roxbury cost him his $87,500 councilor’s salary and his pension — loaned his campaign committee $175,000 of his own money in the past 11 years, Wilson reveals in his sentencing memorandum to U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock.

In order to justify the loan, Wilson told Woodlock, “Mr. Turner had to convince his wife that one day the political committee would have enough money to pay them back.” The campaign fund is now below $5,000.

Wilson, claiming in the new court filing that his client already has suffered “a life-altering experience,” will ask for a term of supervised release, rather than incarceration, when Turner stands before Woodlock tomorrow.

A jury convicted Turner in October of attempted extortion and making false statements to the FBI in connection with a $1,000 “preacher’s handshake” he was videotaped taking in his Roxbury district office in 2007 from Hub businessman Ron Wilburn, an undercover FBI informant. Still, Wilson argued in his memorandum, “There is no support that his office was ‘up for sale.’ ” Wilson charged that Turner, because he’s black, is a victim of “selective prosecution.”

Federal prosecutors are asking for 32 to 41 months behind bars for Turner, a maximum of just under 3A years. Woodlock could send the disgraced politician away for up to 35 years.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also has asked Woodlock to order Turner repay the $1,000 bribe.

Neither Turner nor Wilson could be reached yesterday.

Turner’s former fellow councilors, meanwhile, are asking a different jurist — U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf — to uphold his ouster last month. Turner is suing the board on the grounds that a rule the council implemented in January 2009 after he was indicted, which empowers the panel to vote out any member convicted of a felony, is unconstitutional. The council points out in court filings that Turner himself voted in favor of Rule 40A because he was confident he would be acquitted.

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