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Disgraced Chelsea housing official pleads guilty to new charge

McLaughlin was tipped off to inspections

Michael E. McLaughlin, the former Chelsea Housing Authority executive director serving a three-year federal prison sentence, pleaded guilty Monday to additional corruption charges, but sentencing was delayed until at least next month.

McLaughlin, who was led in and out of US District Court in handcuffs and a green prison jumper by US marshals, said little during the 15-minute hearing before Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, beyond acknowledging that he conspired to defraud the government by rigging housing inspections.

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In attendance were about a dozen Chelsea Housing Authority tenants, who said they were bearing witness to the damage McLaughlin did to the authority, which provides housing to low-income people and elders on fixed incomes.

According to Assistant US Attorney S. Theodore Merritt, McLaughlin, 68, was tipped off in advance about which apartments would be inspected, allowing him to clean up those units before the inspections.

The inspections were supposed to be done on randomly selected units.

The scheme helped the Housing Authority win “high performer” designation from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a status that provides additional funding and less regulatory oversight.

Conspiracy charges are pending against two others: former Chelsea housing assistant executive director James H. Fitzpatrick and Bernard Morosco, a consultant.

McLaughlin pleaded guilty last year to filing false reports to conceal his inflated $360,000 annual salary for running the small housing agency.

He was forced to resign in 2011 following the disclosure in The Boston Globe of his salary.

McLaughlin is due in court June 20 for sentencing.

He is currently at the federal penetentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., according to information from the US Bureau of Prisons.

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at smurphy@
. Follow him on Twitter @spmurphyboston.
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