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Dianne Wilkerson: ‘You gotta move on’ Ex-senator speaks out

Dianne Wilkerson: ‘You gotta move on’
Ex-senator speaks out
By Colneth Smiley Jr.  |   Saturday, March 5, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

Photo by John Wilcox

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who next week will begin serving 42 months on a federal bribery conviction, yesterday sat down with a Herald reporter to reflect on being “set up” by the feds, the “harsh” sentence she and ex-City Councilor Chuck Turner received and her plans for future public service. Following, for the first time since her indictment, Dianne in her own words.

Q: What’s your message to your constituents?

A: None of us are perfect. My message was and still is not that God expects you to never make a mistake. You’re gonna get judged on how you handle it when you make it. My advice to everyone, and I have to take my own advice, is that if you do, you gotta own up to it. You have to own it, you gotta stand up, you gotta own it, you gotta shake it off and you gotta move on. You gotta move on and that’s where I am. I don’t have any ‘woe is me,’ no bitterness as I start this next phase. . . . I want this piece to be over because I still have things that I want to do. And I want to get back to my family, to my community to resume the public work and try in every way, in every breath that I have and every moment that I have, in every breath that I take, to make up for the lost time and for the disappointment — whatever disappointment that people have.

Q: As far as you know, are you the only political figure to accept money for helping people with liquor licenses, legislation or anything else?

A: It’s a difficult question to answer. . . . I think that the practice in Massachusetts — both the practice and the policy — is fraught with gray areas where I do think there are probably elected officials who are engaging in activity that they even believe to be legal — which in fact it could be under our state law and may not be at all under federal law.

Q: Do you think anyone else should have been indicted? At City Hall? The State House? In the private sector?

A: This was a very purposeful, targeted, specific investigation where the federal government chose the defendants and then created the crime. And that’s a fact. In knowing that, if you’re asking me do I wish they had set somebody else up, my answer is no. . . . There should be little question with a little bit of investigation if this was a purposeful targeting where the FBI and the Boston police went out and hired and recruited informants, brought them from other parts of the country to pose specifically for the purpose and enlisted their full support in collaboration with Ron Wilburn to pose as friends of his for the sole purpose of ensnaring Sen. Diane Wilkerson and City Councilor Chuck Turner in their net. So in giving that, if you’re asking me if I wish they had done it to someone else, the answer is no. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

Q: Do you think your sentence was unfair compared to U.S. Rep. John F. Tierney’s wife, Patrice Tierney, and former House Speaker Tom Finneran?

A: I think that the sentence imposed was harsh for me and even more harsh for Chuck Turner, given what I know about the facts of the case and how we got here. Yeah, I do. I think that the problem is it creates a whole new level and a bar that suggests if you sentence someone this harshly for a set of circumstances wholly created by the FBI and the U.S. attorneys created to ensnare them, what do you do when you have people who actually devise their own plan and get caught? . . . No. I don’t think it was fair, and I think it’s even more unfair for Chuck because of what I know about it. How the decision and the conversation that got him into this, like I said, was literally, ‘We’ve always suspected he’s been doing something. Let’s throw him in the mix,’ which shouldn’t instill any comfort in a population, in a people, about the justice and the fairness of the legal system. It’s the best one in the world and it works best when it works right and I would say this time it didn’t work right.

Q: Do you have a reading list for prison?

A: Not only do I have a reading list, but I plan to speak fluent Spanish by the time I’m done. That’s No. 1. I’m not going to sit idle. . . . I hope I am able to do some teaching. I can do GED, ESL classes, it doesn’t matter. I’m not sure what will be available but I taught before I came to the Senate so it’s not a new thing for me. I like the idea. . . . It could be an exciting opportunity.

Q: What are your plans for after prison?

A: To immediately re-engage in a process that allows me to serve the public in some way. I have more specific detail, which I’m not going to say, but whatever it is, it’s going to be serving the public because that’s what I enjoy.

Q: What do you think your legacy is?

A: I’m only in about halfway through the book.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1321161

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  1. Bishop Filipe CupertinoTeixeira, OFSJC

    Great answers my dear Senator. Keep the faith as we pray for your return home. Blessings and much peace.+ Bishop Teixera, OFSJC