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The Boston Globe

Metro

Michael McLaughlin made a career of skirting laws

The felonious Chelsea housing boss outran scandal and the law

Friends call him a “warrior from the old school.” But others who watched Democratic power broker Michael E. McLaughlin at work over the last four decades, from Middlesex County commissioner to close ally of the current lieutenant governor, call him “a thug,” “a liar,” and now “a ­felon.”

The disgraced Chelsea public housing chief, 67, is a throwback to rogue politicians in the mold of the legendary James Michael Curley, who once served as Boston’s mayor from a prison cell. For them, public service was often just a game of “let’s make a deal” in which the only limit was what they could get away with.

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