Feds to seek 4 years in Boston corruption case
Prosecutors will ask a judge for a four-year prison sentence for a former Massachusetts state senator who was captured on video stuffing bribe money into her sweater and bra.
Dianne Wilkerson, a Boston Democrat, was accused in 2008 of taking $23,500 in bribes. She pleaded guilty in June to eight counts of attempted extortion.
In a sentencing memorandum filed in court Friday, prosecutors cited Wilkerson’s prior federal conviction in 1997 for failing to pay $51,000 in federal income taxes and numerous campaign law violations, saying Wilkerson has “repeatedly demonstrated that she believed that she was above the law.”
Wilkerson’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The defense has the right to argue for a lighter sentence.
Wilkerson resigned about a month after she was arrested, and following her loss in a Democratic primary election.
Brown meets with parents of slain football player
Sen. Scott Brown has met with the family of a college football player fatally shot by police while they tried to break up a disturbance outside a suburban New York bar.
The Massachusetts Republican said in a statement last Thursday he met with Danroy and Angella Henry, parents of Danroy Henry Jr., as they visited the capital to lobby for a federal investigation.
Brown formerly served as state senator for a district that encompasses Easton, where the Henrys live. After the Oct. 17 shooting near Pace University, Brown said he was monitoring events.
The senator now says all parties involved should give a grand jury “time to complete its work.”
He says he wants to “make sure that a fair and thorough investigation is carried out in a timely manner,” and that the Henry family gets its questions answered.
Mass., Conn., NH score high in reading, math
High school seniors in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire have scored above average in a new voluntary program that tests reading and math scores.
Eleven states participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress state-specific pilot program for students in grade 12.
Massachusetts students tied with New Hampshire, Connecticut, Illinois and South Dakota for the highest scores in reading.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa and South Dakota also scored above the national average in math.
The scores released last week show a stubborn achievement gap remains across racial and ethnic groups, with white and Asian students outperforming black and Hispanic students.
More than 6,000 students from 94 high schools participated in the pilot exam.
Massachusetts’ lone Latina senator defends tuition plan
The Massachusetts’ only Latina state senator is defending a state proposal to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and accused critics of the plan of spreading “fiction.”
Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said last week that House Minority Leader Bradley Jones is misleading voters that such a plan would hurt taxpayers. Instead, the Boston Democrat pointed to a Massachusetts Taxpayer’s Foundation 2006 report said it would raise revenue.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told immigrant advocates last week that he wanted to implement a panel’s immigration reform recommendations that included the in-state tuition plan. But he said changes in federal law would need to come first.
Jones, a Republican from North Reading, called the plan “a ridiculous idea” and said lawmakers should instead be focused on fixing the state’s economy.
Mass. bans Four Loko, other caffeinated booze
Massachusetts liquor regulators last Thursday banned the sale of caffeine-packed alcoholic drinks, making the state the fifth in the nation to outlaw Four Loko and other potent beverages known as “blackout in a can.”
The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission filed an emergency regulation banning the drinks and ordering their immediate removal from stores, said Kim Gainsboro, who heads the agency.
The commission had originally planned to simply restrict sales of the drinks beginning Monday. But officials took a tougher stance last Thursday, a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned four drink manufacturers that the caffeine is an “unsafe food additive.”
The potent drinks are popular with students looking for a quick and cheap buzz. But some officials have warned that caffeine and other stimulants lacing the beverages encourage binge drinking by preventing consumers from realizing how drunk they might be.
Four Loko already as been banned in Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma. Liquor distributors in Connecticut have also voluntarily agreed to stop shipments and deliveries of the beverage and its variants.
Illinois-based Phusion Projects, which manufactures Four Loko, announced last week that it would reformulate its drinks and remove the caffeine, guarana and taurine stimulants after unsuccessfully trying to deal with “a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels.”
Last year, the FDA notified more than two dozen manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that it never had specifically approved the addition of caffeine to alcoholic drinks and began studying whether it was unsafe and should be outlawed. The agency noted the mix’s growing popularity among college students and its potential health and safety issues.