Wilkerson informant not so informative

In today's interview with the Globe's Adrian Walker, businessman Ron Wilburn publicly admits for the first time that he is the FBI informant seen handing cash to former state senator Dianne Wilkerson and City Councilor Chuck Turner in surveillance photographs purporting to show the two Boston pols taking bribes. But Wilburn's first news media interview about the corruption scandal raises more questions than it answers.

Wilburn, who had tried without success to secure a liquor license for a Roxbury nightclub, claims to have been frustrated at the "favoritism" and "cronyism" that tilts the playing field toward those with "the right connections." If that was his real motive in cooperating with the FBI, it's hard to see why attention was focused on Wilkerson and Turner, the two officials who have been arrested so far in connection with the case. Neither one of them — and Turner in particular — comes to mind in thinking about who has the right connections to get a license application approved.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

Maybe that provides some clues to where the case is heading, but Wilburn isn't saying much. He suggests other suspects will surface, but provides no further information."If other people aren't looked at, realistically, something is radically wrong with the process," Wilburn said.

Wilburn would seem to be the person in the best position to say clearly who should be looked at. Did he don surveillance wires and hand money to anyone else? Is he under some kind of agreement with the FBI not to say more?

Even the origins of the investigation now seem cloudier. The FBI affidavit released at the time of Wilkerson's arrest last month seems to imply that Wilburn approached the FBI. "In early 2007, an individual who later became a cooperating witness ("CW") informed the FBI that Wilkerson routinely took cash payments from constituents and others having business before the Senate," it reads. But Wilburn told the Globe that federal agents approached him, though Walker writes that "he was vague about the circumstances." Wilburn directly refuted the claim attributed to him in the affidavit that Wilkerson took payments from people with business before the Senate, saying he had no such knowledge.