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DiMasi begins 8-year prison term

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi spoke in Boston earlier this year after his conviction.

Stephan Savoia/AP Photo

Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi spoke in Boston earlier this year after his conviction.

Former House speaker Salvatore DiMasi today kept his date with his federal jailers, and is now being housed in the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky., as he begins his eight-year prison sentence for corruption convictions.

DiMasi, who was scheduled to surrender himself by noon today, arrived at the facility sometime this morning, said Edmond Ross, spokesman for the US Bureau of Prisons. DiMasi’s exact arrival time was not immediately available.

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“We are showing that he is now designated at the Lexington medical facility,’’ Ross said in a telephone interview.

The Globe reported today that DiMasi continues to maintain his innocence two months after he tearfully pleaded for a federal judge’s mercy when he was sentenced following his conviction for steering state contracts to a software company.

“I maintain my innocence,’’ DiMasi said in his written statement. “I have never, nor would I ever violate the public’s trust.’’

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His defiance was a sharp departure from his Sept. 8 appearance before US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf, during which DiMasi tearfully called himself a “broken man’’ who deserved the court’s compassion in setting his jail sentence.

“I still believe in the American justice system, and my hope, faith and attention are now focused on the Appeals Court,’’ DiMasi said in a statement released to the Globe Tuesday. “I have abiding faith in that system and place my fate in its hands.’’

DiMasi, 66, once one of the state’s most powerful elected officials, was convicted by a federal jury in June of multiple counts of honest services fraud and conspiracy to defraud taxpayers.

Jurors found he was at the center of a scandal to sell his office by helping a Burlington software company, Cognos, win two state contracts totaling $17.5 million in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks to him and his associates.

But DiMasi maintained his innocence and said he was proud of his work in the Legislature, where he rose to become the state’s first Italian-American speaker.

“I have a proud record of accomplishments, including historic health care reform, green jobs, important court reforms, the protection of same sex marriage, and, while I served, the refusal to legalize casino gambling,’’ DiMasi said. “The irony that the casino culture prevailed after so many years just one week before I traveled to Kentucky is certainly not lost on me.’’

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