Mayor Carlo DeMaria has paid $130,000 in legal fees to criminal attorneys which appears to coincide with a Federal investigation into wrongdoing that remains ongoing, published reports and a review of his campaign finance expenditures reveal.
The bulk of the payments disbursed for legal fees were paid from the mayor’s campaign account to a major national law firm specializing in criminal defense with an office in Boston and a North Shore criminal attorney – now a Superior Court judge.
The mayor refused to detail reasons for hiring and paying criminal attorneys except to say he has consulted from time to time outside counsel to obtain strategic advice in connection with his duties as a public official.
“Any and all payments were legal and appropriate,” DeMaria told the Leader Herald.
The FBI has been active in Everett for the past four years. Local officials, lawyers, developers and union leaders have been interviewed, documents examined and some have been questioned before a grand jury.
Boston FBI spokesperson Kristen Setera said Monday the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
FBI agents have been investigating whether the DeMaria Administration gave special treatment to certain developers and contractors, and likely includes elements of the land sale to Wynn Boston Harbor Casino and Hotel being built in Everett, according to published reports.
DeMaria was one of five people named in the City of Boston law suit that sought to stop the casino from going to Everett. It is alleged he knew a mob associate with felony convictions would profit from his stake in the waterfront land where the casino and hotel is being built, according to court filings, which were published by the Associated Press.
In the same court filings, DeMaria is said to know at least one of the owners of the former Monsanto site, who was also a felon, but failed to report this.
Land dealings specific to the site during DeMaria’s time in office are also believed to be the subject of the investigation.
The FBI is investigating whether DeMaria used strong arm tactics to force a developer to hire union employees at the Batch Yard, a 328 unit luxury development that opened in 2014 on the site of the former Charlestown Chew factory, according to published reports.
The mayor’s extraordinary legal expenses, and the disbursements of payments from his campaign account to criminal attorneys, began in 2015 and continued to the beginning of 2018.
The law firm Greenberg Traurig, with offices at International Place in Boston, received $110,000 in payments for legal fees from the mayor’s campaign account, payments which began January 2016 and continued through December 2017, according to information provided to the Leader Herald by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).
In addition, in 2015-2016 the mayor paid more than $20,000 in legal fees from his campaign account to criminal Attorney Jeffrey Karp, who maintained law offices in Newburyport.
OCPF records reveal he hired Karp at the same time the Federal investigation got underway in 2015.
The payments of legal fees from his campaign account ballooned when Karp’s billings ended and Greenberg Traurig began representing the mayor in 2016.
In all, 20 payments were made to Karp and then to Greenberg Traurig totaling $130,000.
All the invoices for legal services were paid from the mayor’s campaign account, according to filings made by the mayor’s campaign to OCPF and reviewed by the Leader Herald.
Greenberg Traurig is the largest law firm in the United States, with 38 offices all over the nation and offices in major cities around the world. In 2017 Greenberg Traurig took in $1.4 billion in legal fees from its clients.
Noted among the attorneys associated with Greenberg Traurig in its Boston office is former US Attorney in Massachusetts A. John Pappalardo. He specializes in representing individuals in Federal investigations.
Karp was appointed a Superior Court judge in 2017 by Governor Charlie Baker.
OCPF guidelines allow for elected public officials in Massachusetts to use funds from their campaign accounts to pay for legal expenses to protect themselves from criminal prosecution connected to their positions in public office.
Chronology of the mayor’s legal fees paid to Greenberg Traurig, One International Place, Boston, MA 02109:
Chronology of the mayor’s legal fees paid to Attorney Jeffrey Karp, PO Box 39, Newburyport, MA 01950: