After serving 28 months of a three-year sentence for a bribery conviction, former Boston city councilor Chuck Turner has returned to Boston, an attorney who represented him said Friday.
Turner, who was being held at Hazelton federal prison in West Virginia, is now in a halfway house in Boston, retired attorney Chester Darling said. The former District 7 councilor’s sentence was due to expire March 23, 2014, but he was released on July 18 because of good behavior, said Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In October 2010, a US District Court jury found Turner guilty of taking a $1,000 bribe and later lying to federal agents about accepting the money. His conviction and swift ouster from the City Council elicited criticism from constituents in Roxbury, who were happy to learn of his release.
“It’s good for the community,” said Robert Hector, 73, who supported Turner, now in his early 70s. “A lot of people probably still support him and wish he could run for city councilor.”
Darling said he did not know where Turner was being housed in Boston. But Burke said Turner is due to be released from the halfway house on Nov. 2.
FBI agents investigating government corruption swept Turner into their case almost as an afterthought, prosecutors acknowledged at the time. The main target was state Senator Dianne Wilkerson, who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes worth more than $23,000 from undercover agents and Boston businessman Ronald Wilburn, who was working with the FBI.
In 2007, Wilburn videotaped a meeting with Turner, during which he gave the councilor $1,000 in exchange for a liquor license. The video, though, was of poor quality and Turner’s defense argued that it was impossible to make out what transpired.
Some of Turner’s former constituents agreed.
“A lot of us also think he never should have been convicted,” Hector said.
Several city councilors are hoping Turner can again become active in the community.
“Since I was a child I have known Councilor Turner to be an advocate for our community,” said Tito Jackson, the current District 7 councilor. “I think Chuck should be involved in all of our [community’s] business, because not only was he a city councilor, he’s also an elder in the community.”
Mike Ross was council president at the time of Turner’s conviction. He oversaw a controversial vote to remove Turner from the council following his conviction but prior to his sentencing, when he would have been ousted automatically.
Turner sued the city, and in February 2013 the Supreme Judicial Court awarded him a $106,000 settlement.
Ross, however, said he holds no animosity toward Turner.
“I have very fond memories of working with Chuck on a number of progressive issues and wish him the best on his return to our city,” Ross said.