Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mass. state senator indicted on 8 counts of attempted extortion

BOSTON – A Massachusetts state senator, photographed by the FBI allegedly stuffing bribe money under her sweater, has been indicted on eight counts of attempted extortion.

Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint in October alleging Sen. Dianne Wilkerson accepted cash payments between June 2007 and October 2008. The formal grand jury indictment was handed down Tuesday.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of the more than $23,500 in payments allegedly made to the Boston Democrat by undercover agents and a cooperating witness during the 18-month investigation.

If convicted, Wilkerson faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each of the eight charges.

Wilkerson, who is free on a $50,000 unsecured bond, has said there is "more to this story."

A call to her lawyer was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The indictment prompted Senate President Therese Murray to renew her call for Wilkerson to resign from the seat immediately. An ethics panel reviewing the case could recommend that senators vote to expel her.

Wilkerson lost her re-election bid in the September primary to Sonia Chang-Diaz.

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