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Corruption investigation grows

Republican, The (Springfield, MA) - November 9, 2004

Author/Byline: JACK FLYNN, STAFF, The Republican (Springfield, MA)

Edition: All
Section: NEWS
Page: A01
"New names" have come up in the long-running Springfield probe, federal prosecutors say.
SPRINGFIELD - Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday there is no end in sight for the city's four-year public
corruption probe and indictments involving new figures are likely in coming months.
Speaking at a meeting with The Republican's editorial board, Sullivan said he was pleased with the progress of the wide-ranging
investigation conducted by the U.S. attorney's office, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies since 2000.
But building corruption cases is complex and time-consuming, and investigators still are untangling the connections among potential
targets, Sullivan said. "These cases take a lot longer than even I realized coming in," said Sullivan, a former Plymouth County district
attorney who was appointed to the U.S. attorney's post in 2001.
"You have cases spinning off into other areas. The last thing you want to do is take a case down too early," Sullivan said.
Twenty people, including state Rep. Christopher P. Asselin, D-Springfield, and former Springfield Police Commission Chairman Gerald A.
Phillips, have pleaded innocent after being indicted in the probe. Others, including former state Rep. Athan "Soco" Catjakis and Anthony
M. Ardolino, former Mayor Michael J. Albano's chief of staff, have had their homes or businesses raided by federal agents, but have not
been charged.
Four defendants, including Asselin's brother James, were convicted earlier this year for defrauding a small business loan fund.
Neither Sullivan nor Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Regan would speculate on how much longer the investigation would last, but Sullivan
said additional indictments involving "new names" are expected in coming months. "We've been very active," said Sullivan, a Republican
who served three terms on Beacon Hill representing Abington.
"You'd like to say at some point we're done. Maybe we'll get there at some point in time."
Sullivan said Mayor Charles V. Ryan's administration has been "very helpful" in turning over information to federal prosecutors, but
refused to characterize the level of cooperation during Albano's eight-year tenure.
The tactics used by prosecutors here, especially Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Welch II, are being studied within the U.S. Justice
Department as a possible model for attacking corruption in other areas, Sullivan said.
The investigation is just one of the department's priorities in Greater Springfield, along with combating gang activity, gun violence and
health care fraud, Sullivan said. Statewide, federal investigators have recovered $2 billion from pharmaceutical companies and other
health care providers in the past few years.
Nationally, the Justice Department's primary focus remains fighting terrorism in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks,
Sullivan said. To identify potential terrorists, federal authorities have been working with state and local agencies to track criminals who
move from state to state, Sullivan said.
(COLOR) Michael J. Sullivan
Record: MERLIN_2979130
Copyright: Copyright, 2004, The Republican Company, Springfield, MA. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.