Some members turn blind eye on Pappalardo fee
By JOSH RESNEK
During these trying times there is always the hope that the city council will stand up and be counted when the mayor’s wastefulness, greed and his foolishness, go well beyond the boundaries of common sense.
Except for several councilors, most of those from the business private sector are afraid of the mayor, the way city employees are afraid of the mayor, the same way the mayor would like the Leader Herald to be afraid of him.
When the mayor informed the city council several weeks ago that the city will be paying his attorney $750 an hour to review what is written and spoken about him in the local press and on the Internet on social media, most members of the city council looked the other way.
Now, with the city laying off hundreds of employees to plug a debt hole that cannot be filled, residents, quite rightfully, are questioning why they, the taxpayers, should be paying the mayor’s self-generated legal bills.
The city council’s quiet about the matter is predictable. No one wants to get involved. No one wants to challenge the mayor.
The mayor is a Donald Trump clone the way he treats people. He is much worse the way he spends taxpayer dollars. He says one thing. He does another. What’s on his mind is himself.
Every councilor knows the city paying for the mayor’s legal representation is wrong, a total waste of taxpayer dollars when the ship is sinking but only three councilors will stand up and be counted: Fred Capone, Gerly Adrien, Mike McLaughlin.
Back on February 24, the mayor invited his personal attorney, A. John Pappalardo, to address the council. The mayor used the opportunity to threaten all those individuals perceived as his enemies that he will be suing them and what’s better, the city will be paying for the lawsuits he wants to launch.
Pappalardo was presumably there to answer several councilor’s questions about the large legal payments, ostensibly being generated to protect the mayor from the implications of a perceived criminal investigation. The councilors wanted simply to know what the more than $100,000 paid out of the mayor’s campaign account to Pappalardo’s law firm was for. The council didn’t invite Pappalardo. The mayor invited him.
Papparlardo tried to convince the locals that the mayor’s needs aren’t criminal. They are more social and political.
That was odd for a noted criminal attorney to play down his true role at the law firm where he works.
Pappalardo focuses his international practice on federal white collar criminal defense, representing corporations and individuals in federal and international investigations. With 40 years of litigation experience, he represents clients in matters relating to FCPA issues, SEC investigations, fraud, banking investigations including money laundering, insider trading, RICO, global anticorruption, and other white collar crimes. John’s clients include numerous corporations and businesses, attorneys, U.S. Congressmen, medical doctors, members of the federal judiciary, and a former foreign head of state. John has conducted many significant representations, including the landmark case in which he represented former YUKOS Oil Company CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was on trial for fraud and tax evasion. He currently rep- resents and has represented Fortune 500 companies in connection with their business dealings on five continents. Additionally, John represents companies and their boards of directors, including structuring and conducting internal investigations, developing compliance guidelines, and implementing compliance programs.
And now it appears Papparlardo has branched out to protect the mayor’s political career.
There is a real disconnect there.
Pappalardo’s clients, at least those he represents in federal court, tend to be accused of criminal activity. We found over 32 such cases in the federal district of Massachusetts. Last September, Pappalardo represented businessman Devin Sloane who pled guilty to paying more than $250,000 through a bogus charity that was then used to bribe a coach at the University of Southern California’s water polo team. The goal was to get Sloan’s kid into USC through the water polo team. As part of the scheme, Sloane did more than just pay money, he admitted that he staged photos and paid to have his son’s image photoshopped into water pictures taken in the family pool to make it look as though he was in the heat of a polo match.
On February 24th the City Council, and rightly so, was asking if the mayor’s legal expenditures are for campaign related activities or are somehow tied to the proffer agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which the mayor signed in 2013, and under which he agreed to cooperate with the federal government in its investigation of the land deal behind the Encore casino site.
Pappalardo told the council that the mayor of Everett signing a proffer agreement was a good thing, a wonderful thing, giving further proof of the mayor’s innocence.
If you can believe that, you can believe anything.
Again, the mayor was asked to appear to answer the Council’s questions, but instead, Pappalardo appeared, at the mayor’s request and what should be at the mayor’s expense. If the FBI interviews a witness and the witness brings his or her own legal counsel, does the FBI receive the bill for the attorney’s time?
Of course not.
Additionally, the mayor insisted that Pappalardo will be reviewing what is said about him [the mayor] on social media and in print media for possible legal action involving defamation. The mayor is a public figure. His public and private life are up for scrutiny.
Pappalardo defending him on the city’s dime at a reduced $750 hour will be perceived as a good deal for the city by the city council.
But it isn’t.
It is all about a joke and the joke is on the taxpayers of Everett.
The choice of Pappalardo to represent the mayor in these matters is akin to going to a dentist to surgically remove a tumor from your brain.
At the June 8th City Council meeting when the mayor was asked if the city had paid any of the invoices for Attorney Pappalardo’s time, the mayor responded that this was not so. Let’s take him at his word that he is not lying to all of us.
Expending public money to pay for legal fees used to enhance a candidate’s political future is patently illegal. Second, even though Pappalardo has cut his hourly rate from $1,600 per hour to the bargain price of $750 per hour a magnificent sign of Pappalardo’s noblesse oblige (the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity toward those less privileged), one might question the wisdom of using city funds for such a purpose when the city is in the midst of its worst financial crisis in many, many years – and this despite the millions taken in by the city from Encore before it closed down.
Just two hours of Pappalardo’s time would keep a teacher in the classroom for a week. With any luck, the residents of Everett will come to that conclusion as well.
And maybe, just maybe, the city council will speak up for what is right.