A Suffolk Superior Court judge has denied a motion to dismiss public corruption charges against former state treasurer Tim Cahill, paving the way for a trial.
Prosecutors say Cahill used a $1.8 million advertising campaign for the state lottery, which as treasurer Cahill oversaw, to boost his candidacy for governor in 2010. Cahill, who finished a distant third in the election, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of violating state ethics laws and procurement fraud.
Cahill’s lawyers had moved for a dismissal of the charges, contending that the state’s conflict of interest law is overly vague and that the ads were developed and authorized by the lottery’s director.
But in a decision Tuesday, Judge Christine Roach noted that Cahill could not “successfully distance himself” from the decision to spend the bulk of the lottery’s advertising budget on a single ad campaign.
“Cahill was the final decision maker with respect to if, when, and how to spend the lottery’s money,” Roach ruled. “Cahill gave ongoing direction to his this campaign staff and advisors — as well as to lottery staff — on this, as on all, topics.”
The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 29. Brad Bailey, a lawyer for Cahill, said that Cahill looks forward to presenting his case to a jury. The attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on the decision.
Cahill has maintained he did nothing wrong and that the advertisements were meant to promote the lottery. But at a hearing last month, prosecutors said Cahill’s use of his position for political gain was almost akin to embezzlement.
In her ruling, Roach noted that more than one lottery official voiced concern about the appearance of impropriety, given the timing of the ads. The lottery’s general counsel told the director of the lottery the ads had to be done carefully to promote “only the lottery. Not the elected official.”
The ads highlighted the money the lottery gives to cities and towns and said, “That’s the result of a consistently well-managed lottery. And luck has nothing to do with it.’’ They did not mention Cahill by name.
In the face of criticism, Cahill pulled the ads two weeks before the election. He received just 8 percent of the vote.
Roach concluded that the grand jury “heard sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that the motivation for the lottery . . . ads was to bolster Cahill’s sinking gubernatorial campaign, both financially and thematically.”
Roach also denied a motion to dismiss charges against Scott Campbell, Cahill’s former campaign manager, saying there was sufficient probable cause to continue that case as well.
“Campbell had the access to Cahill, and the documented interactions with the candidate at key times, to support an inference that Campbell took part in the decision making about the lottery ads,” Roach wrote.
Campbell’s lawyer could not immediately be reached.
Peter Schworm can be reached at email@example.com.