As we have discussed many times over the past years, we are seeing more and more prosecutions for things that we barely even heard about, much less saw Massachusetts criminal prosecutions for... although we kind of knew they existed.
Today, the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog brings you another one.
A Suffolk County grand jury has now returned a 53 criminal charges for bribery against five Massachusetts Port Authority employees. They include Kenneth Clement, 67, of Attleboro; Michael Garvey, 51, of Melrose; Vadim Mkrtychev, 38, of West Roxbury; James Mulrey, 45, of Canton; and Donald Potis, 47, of Medford (hereinafter, collectively, the “Defendants”).
The Defendants allegedly accepted bribes from cab drivers in exchange for better spaces in line at the Boston Logan International Airport taxi queue. They now face charges of accepting a bribe as a public employee and soliciting or accepting an unlawful gratuity as a public employee, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said in a statement.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Timothy P. Alben adds that, “We have a duty to protect the right of businesses to operate on a level playing field, without their being forced to pay a bribe or engage in any other illicit activity for that right.”
The actual allegations are not terribly new. They were made back in February when the State Police arrested the Defendants after multiple cab drivers told investigators that the men, known as “cab starters,” regularly took money, as well as cigarettes, scratch tickets, and other items in exchange for favoritism in the cab queue, law enforcement has said. Now, the Defendants have been indicted which moves the matter higher up the ladder to superior court. Superior court arraignment is set for May 24th on the indictments that have been returned. However, the Commonwealth has warned that more indictments are possible as the criminal investigation continues and additional evidence is gathered.
To this Boston criminal lawyer, this translates to the fact that it is now time to further squeeze potential and actual defendants for information so that such charges can be brought.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Conspiracies, Cooperating Witnesses and Changing Times
The fact that this money has been changing hands in this fashion is probably no shock to anyone. This is particularly so given that some of these “pay-offs” are not even in U.S. currency. That fact that such things may be unfair and ethically wrong has not always made them crimes worthy of prosecution…particularly superior court prosecution.
It makes me wonder when law enforcement will crack down on differences in treatment some folks claim when they do not tip or give holiday gifts to postal employees and such workers.
The fact is, however, that this is bribery, regardless of the form of payment and it is considered a Massachusetts white collar crime.
You may be wondering how such cases are built. Well, as the story reflects, certain cab drivers complained. I would imagine that these were cab drivers who were not receiving the special treatment. Most likely, then, these are not the folks who were witnesses to the “pay offs”. Unless authorities relied solely on undercover officers who posed as cab drivers, it would seem that some of the bribers themselves are Commonwealth witnesses.
You might wonder what would possess such people to turn on their co-conspirators.
“Sam, what do you mean, ‘co-conspirators’?”
Well, offering a bribe is illegal too. So, it would seem that if, as apparently alleged, this was a regular practice, it had to be a conspiracy to violate these laws. As any regular reader of this blog knows, co-conspirators are held responsible for the acts of others in the conspiracy when those actions are in the furtherance of the conspiracy.
It is very likely that the Commonwealth’s case consists, to some extent, of folks who chose cooperating over being prosecuted themselves. This could include some of the bribe-offering cab drivers as well as some of the other cab-launchers.
The fact that additional indictments may be forthcoming may well be the expectation that more potential defendants will be adopting the mantle of Commonwealth witness.
Now what does this mean to you?
It is yet another example of something that one would assume to be “no big deal” being actually illegal and, potentially, successfully prosecuted. After all, even if you think you have left no “proof” behind, you would be surprised how “proof” ends up being discovered in the mouths of co-conspirators who have made a good deal to save their own skins.
Anyone can make mistakes of judgment without even considering that it might be a prosecutable offense. Once done, you would be surprised who is willing to aid in your prosecution to avoid the loss of liberty.
Be careful. If suspected, be alert and consult an experienced criminal defense attorney…and nobody else. Anyone else could wind up on the stand at your trial.
That’s it for me on our new Monday & Thursday schedule.
Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!
For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/05/15/grand-jury-issues-indictments-against-five-massport-cab-starters/yK0bRRdChHJCVC4NKmQJ9J/story.html