Thursday, July 7, 2011

Imprisoned Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner's June 13, 2011 Message From Behind The Wall

(The following article was originally posted on the Support Chuck Turner site)

Reflections from Behind the Wall:
Topic: Preview of Anatomy of a FrameUp

June 13, 2011
Dear Supporters,

I was arrested by the FBI on November 21, 2008 at 6:15 a.m. at Boston
City Hall where I had served as a City Councilor for 9 years. At 3
p.m. on the same day, I was arraigned before a judge magistrate in
Worcester, MA, 45 miles from Boston, on one count of extortion, 3
counts of lying to FBI agents, and 1 count of conspiracy. On October
29, 2010, I was convicted of 1 count of extortion and 3 counts of
lying to FBI agents. The conspiracy charge was dropped without
explanation. On January 25, 2011, I was sentenced to 36 months in a
federal penitentiary. The sentence was based on my conviction on the
four counts and the judge’s assertion that I had perjured myself when
I took the stand to testify in my own defense.

Today I am in my 11th week at the work camp at USP Hazelton in
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, where 130 men convicted of nonviolent
financial crimes serve as the work force for the Hazelton prison
complex, composed of a women’s medium security prison with 1000
inmates and a men’s maximum security prison with 1700 inmates. Based
on the Bureau of Prison Sentencing Monitoring Computation of
3-31-2011, I will be released on November 2, 2013 if I maintain my
good time.

Due to my financial insolvency, I applied for a court appointed
appeals lawyer and was fortunate to have the appeals court appoint,
Attorney Charles Rankin of the firm of Rankin and Sultan. Attorney
Rankin is a prominent Boston appeals lawyer. Based on his reputation,
I am convinced he will make an excellent presentation of the appeal.
However, I believe I have a responsibility based on my experience with
the Justice Department during the last two and a half years to show
how U.S. Attorneys and their special police force, the FBI, use their
law enforcement powers as well as media and political relationships
to eliminate those who they view as a threat or as not cooperating
with their political objectives.

I made this promise to my supporters at a rally in front of my Roxbury
office on the day before Thanksgiving 2008, a few days after my
arrest. I think I have enough objectivity now to effectively make such
a presentation. Each week for the next eight weeks, I will send an
installment of what I am calling, “Anatomy of a FRAME UP”. My purpose
is not to prove my innocence. While I am innocent of the crimes of
which I was convicted, I understand that regardless of the outcome of
my appeal, I will always carry the label of being a convicted felon.
Fortunately, I have learned through my 48 years of activism that it
does not matter what people label you as long as you live by the
principles that you believe are appropriate for a civilized society.

I realize that there is a danger in accusing a former member of the
Justice Department of what i view as a crime, especially while I am
under the control of the Bureau of Prisons, a bureau of the Justice
Department. However, I have spent my life urging those who are being
oppressed to stand up, speak the truth, and fight the power despite
the dangers. I have pointed out that justice can only result when
those experiencing injustice loudly and publicly oppose the forces
perpetuating it. How can I do less at a time when the “criminal
justice system” is so ruthlessly taking away the liberty of my
brothers and sisters of all races. We must all do what we can to fight
“Prosecutorial Terrorism”. It is our responsibility to free our
country of this cancer. We owe it to our future generations,
particularly those of us who have experienced their terrorism.

What follows are the titles of the eight installments and a brief
summary of what will be the focus of each.

Installment I: A Lifetime of Activism:

Since US Attorney Sullivan alleged that my crime was a betrayal of my
public trust as an elected official, I feel it is necessary for me to
share my background that led to a life time of activism; the nature of
that activism; what led me to run for political office at age 59; and
how I carried out those responsibilitIes for nine years before I was
convicted of being a corrupt public official and removed from the City
Council by a vote of my fellow Councilors 11-1 (I couldn’t vote).

Installment 2: The Keystone Cops Strike Again:

My arrest was obviously a very serious matter. At the same time, the
way they handled the arrest of a 68 year old activist and respected
public official seemed to me at the time and today as a scene out of a
grade B FBI movie of the 40s. However, it also had shadings of the
slapstick comedy of the Keystone Cops movies of the 20s. Their
behavior certainly did not seem appropriate for Justice Department
officials handling the arrest of a fellow officer of the government.

Installment 3: The Big Lie:

A few hours after my arrest on November 21, 2008, US Attorney Sullivan
called a press conference to announce that I had been arrested for
conspiring with a black female state senator, Senator Dianne
Wilkerson, to extort money from a Roxbury business man, Ron
Wilburn,who was trying to obtain a liquor license. However, since US
Attorney Sullivan had authorized in March 2007 the hiring of Mr.
Wilburn to attempt to entrap the Senator and I, he was obviously lying
about the participants in the conspiracy. He was the chief conspirator
using the FBI, his staff, and Wilburn to attempt to create a crime
around the Senator and i. I believe Sullivan’s lying to the media
about the background of my arrest is what should be prosecuted as wire
fraud. Unfortunately US Attorneys can not be tried for the crimes they
commit “under color of law”.

Installment 4: A Jury of My Peers:

Less than five hours after my arrest, almost as if synchronized with
the US Attorney’s press conference, the then President of the City
Council, Maureen Feeney, having consulted with Mayor Menino’s lawyer,
William Sinnott, announced to the press that I was being stripped of
all my City Council Committee responsibilities and would be invited to
a special meeting of the City Council the following work day when the
Council would determine what action to take based on the accusation
that I had committed a crime. She backed away from her plan when she
saw five hundred of my supporters come to City Hall to attend the
meeting that i had requested be open to the public. However, she
continued her quest by getting the Mayor hire a lawyer to gather
evidence and explore althernatives at $500 a hour. Fortunately, the
new Council President Ross rescinded her actions.

Installment 5: What First Amendment?:

Infuriated with the fact that I had been challenging the actions of
his office since the day of my arrest, US Attorney Sullivan had Asst
US Attorney McNeil file a motion on January 5, 2009 requesting that
the presiding magistrate approve a gag order to silence me. The order
which the magistrate approved required that all the evidence in the
case be withheld unless I signed a gag order saying that I would not
publicly discuss anything in the evidence. I refused to sign for the
following reasons. First, I was running to retain my Council seat and
believed I had a responsibility to my constituents to speak to the
issues involved in the case. Second, I believed I had a responsibility
to defend my first amendment rights. The third reason was that since
the US Attorney had begun the public discussion of my case, by showing
alleged evidence of “my crime” to the media, I didn’t think that I
should be denied the opportunity if I chose. This led to the U.S.
Attorney’s office withholding their “evidence” from my lawyer for 10
months until I won the election and signed the order.

Installment 6: The Three Ring Circus:

This installment will focus on the trial. Its title does not refer to
Judge Woodlock’s handling of the trial. I use the term because at a
circus, the action takes place in three rings. During my two week
trial, there were three elements/rings that served from my perspective
as the foundation of my conviction for a federal crime: a)Judge
Woodlock’s explanation to the jury that while I was being charged with
extortion, I did not even have to ask for money in order to be
convicted on the charge; b) My decision that as a public official I
had to take the stand despite my lawyer and the judge urging me not to
do so; and c) The testimony by a liquor wholesaler that if Mr. Wilburn
had obtained a liquor license, and if he had opened a club, and had
bought liquor from the wholesaler’s 0firm, the alcohol would have to
come from out of state. The fact that the alcohol would have had to
cross state lines gave Sullivan the opportunity to use his federal
powers to initiate a sting regarding the issuance of state liquor
license to entrap the Senator and i

Installment 7: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury:

I will use this installment to present the evidence, seen by the jury,
that should have convinced them of my innocence. I will present the
evidence in the form of a closing argument to the jury. I will also
point out in that argument the relevance to my innocence of the fact
that U.S. Attorney Sullivan built his public justification for my
arrest around the lie that Senator Wilkerson and I conspired to extort
money from Mr. Wilburn. How could I be in a conspiracy with the
Senator to extort money from Mr. Wilburn when the evidence presented
at the trial shows that the FBI instructed Mr. Wilburn to suggest to
the Senator that they involve me in the scheme that he was creating to
entrap the Senator.

Installment 8: I Warned You:

The jury found me guilty of one count of extortion of $1000 and three
counts of lying to federal officials when I told them that I did not
recognize their picture of Mr. Wilburn or remember any interactions
with him. Despite the fact that I had never been convicted of a crime,
either state or federal, other than civil rights protests and had 700
letters of support urging that I be given probation, I was sentenced
to 3 years in jail and three years probation. I will use this last
installment to show how they used my assertion of innocence before the
trial as well as on the witness stand to justify a sentence that many
view as cruel and unusual punishment for a crime I didn’t commit.

I debated whether to include an installment on my ouster from the
Boston City Council on Rosa Parks Day, December 1, 2010. I have
decided to not include it in the “Anatomy……” since it was an
action initiated not by the US Attorney and the FBI but by Council
President Ross, supported by Mayor Menino and his lawyer, William
Sinnott. In addition, my lawyer, Chester Darling who is representing
me in my challenge of the legality of the Council ouster, says that
the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) at the request of the Chief Justice
of the Massachusetts Federal Court Mark Wolfe will hear our arguments
regarding the illegality of the Council’s actions and the erroneous
advice of Counsel Sinnott either in September or October. So I will
hold any discussion of this until after the arguments before the SJc.

Next week: Installment 1: A Lifetime of Activism

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