Ex-senator Tran sues Healey over criminal charges of stealing a constituent’s gun
Former GOP senator, now vying for Congress, says AG engaging in political prosecution
FORMER STATE SENATOR Dean Tran, who was indicted earlier this month on charges that he stole a gun from an elderly constituent, filed suit in federal court on Wednesday against Attorney General Maura Healey, alleging that the case against him is a politically motivated move by a partisan Democratic political figure. Tran is a Republican candidate for Congress in the 3rd District, challenging incumbent Democrat Rep. Lori Trahan.
The lawsuit alleges that “Mr. Tran is being prosecuted solely because of his temerity to run for public office against an incumbent politically aligned with the Attorney General and make political statements as a conservative Republican.” It calls the charges against him “implausible and facially laughable.”
Tran, a 46-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, became the first Asian-American elected to the state Senate when he won a 2107 special election in the Fitchburg-based Worcester and Middlesex District.
In April 2020, CommonWealth first reported on a joint investigation by Fitchburg police and Healey’s office into a murky tale involving a dispute between Tran and an elderly constituent related to guns owned by the woman’s late husband.
Tran lashed out immediately at Healey, calling the charges “categorically false” and saying they were the product of “partisan corruption.”
On Wednesday, Tran filed suit against Healey, alleging that the case is a political hit aimed at undermining his congressional run against Trahan, who endorsed Healey’s campaign for governor in May.
“The possibility of harming his electoral fortunes is the motivating factor in the prosecuton” [sic], reads the suit. The suit alleges that Healey is violating an accepted prosecutorial norm of avoiding bringing charges against candidates close to an election, and it says Tran is the first elected official she has prosecuted since being elected in 2014. Tran does not currently hold elected office but was in the Senate when the probe into the gun case began.
The filing acknowledges that federal intervention in a state criminal proceeding is rare, but argues that the case meets the standard of “extraordinary circumstances” that merits federal action.
An accompanying filing seeking an injunction against Healey says “the criminal proceeding [against Tran] is audacious in its cynical attempt to poison the criminal justice system by using it as a weapon in the political arena: to sabotage Mr. Tran’s electoral fortunes and enhance Ms. Healey’s own.”
Tran asks for an injunction to halt the criminal case against him until after the November election, and that Healey’s office be barred from any involvement in the case if it continues after that time.
The filing includes a bit of sloppily worded, highly suspect political prognostication. “Mr. Tran stands an excellent chance of winning the congressional seat and this is support by internal numbers,” it reads.
Tran’s Senate tenure was marked by censure from colleagues, who stripped him of his leadership position in the Republican caucus in March 2020 and ordered him physically separated from his staff after the Senate Ethics Committee found that he used Senate staffers and public resources for his reelection campaign. Tran was defeated that November by Democrat John Cronin.Tran is scheduled to be arraigned on the gun theft charge Thursday morning in Worcester Superior Court.
Healey’s office declined to comment on the suit.