More pushback against Ortiz

Pushback against US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s prosecutorial style seems to be building.

Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh highlights the extortion cases brought by Ortiz against two aides to Boston Mayor Marty WalshTimothy Sullivan and Ken Brissette.

Both are accused of holding up permits for the Boston Calling music festival on City Hall Plaza until the organizers agreed to hire union workers. Lehigh calls their actions “objectionable,” but he doesn’t think they warrant criminal prosecutions and possible 20-year jail sentences, particularly since the two men didn’t benefit personally in any way. “That strikes me as colossal overkill,” he writes.

But what’s really interesting is that a small group of former state and federal prosecutors agree with Lehigh and are speaking out publicly.

Lehigh quotes Frank McNamara, who served as US attorney in the late 1980s, as saying the actions of Sullivan and Brissette don’t rise to a federal offense. “This is what I call shooting a mouse with a cannon,” he said.

Former state attorney general Thomas Reilly agrees. “There are other options, and I think better options, to handle this without branding them as criminals and indicting them,” he said.

The two prosecutors say it would make more sense to dispense with the criminal prosecution and seek a resolution in some other way.

Lehigh’s column follows in the wake of a much broader article in the Huffington Post in July that raised questions about a host of prosecutions by Ortiz and the federal prosecutor’s close ties to the Globe. That article also quoted another former state prosecutor, Martha Coakley, as saying that Ortiz’s priorities are misplaced.

“You’d like to think the focus would be on those organizations like human trafficking rings, drug smuggling rings, the kind of organizations that in and of themselves represent a threat to safety, public safety,” she said. Coakley said many of Ortiz’s prosecutions have “a competing social interest, sort of civil disobedience context.”



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A Salem News editorial calls for greater investment in public transportation to ease congestion along the Highland Avenue corridor and elsewhere.


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The Guardian says its plans to cut staff at its US operations by 30 percent. (Politico)