The prosecution of state Representative David M. Nangle is the latest criminal case against public officials, employees, and members of law enforcement by US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. Nangle, a veteran lawmaker from Lowell, was accused Tuesday of tapping more than $70,000 in campaign funds to sustain his gambling habit, bilking a local bank out of more than $300,000 in loan money, and cheating the IRS out of tens of thousands of dollars.
The Lelling case that has drawn the highest level of attention is the investigation by the FBI and the prosecution of Massachusetts State Police troopers who collected overtime for work they did not do while being paid out of the federal highway safety budget.
Lelling’s office has brought charges against 46 troopers and commanders in the payroll scandal. US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf has publicly questioned whether the overtime fraud scandal was essentially a criminal conspiracy among the Massachusetts State Police.
Lelling did not start the prosecution of two Boston City Hall employees — Timothy Sullivan and Kenneth Brisette; his predecessor, Carmen Ortiz, launched the case. But after being appointed to the office by President Trump, Lelling kept the case alive, backed an appeal of a judge’s ruling that would have ended the case before trial, and pushed the case to trial when a higher court said it was a valid case.
The two men were convicted, but in a court decision in February that was welcomed by the Walsh administration, US District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin has once again showed his disapproval of the prosecution and overturned the jury’s verdict and ordered the acquittal of the two men.
Lelling has not said whether he will appeal.
In a separate case, Lelling’s office investigated and successfully prosecuted John M. Lynch, the former assistant director for real estate at the Boston Planning & Development Agency. Lynch was ordered to spend 40 months behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of bribery involving an organization receiving federal funds and for filing a false tax return.
The investigation that led to Lynch’s arrest may still be underway.
Last month, Lelling’s office indicted Jennifer Beth True, a longtime Internal Revenue Service employee who allegedly filed 590 federal tax returns, riddled with false information about the finances of the taxpayers, who had paid her between $40 and $100 to prepare their returns.
In a high-profile case last month not involving a public figure, Lelling’s office indicted Harvard University professor Charles M. Lieber, who was then chairman of the school’s chemistry and chemical biology department, for allegedly “making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement.”
Prosecutors allege that Lieber lied about his connection to a Chinese university and a program to expand the country’s intellectual firepower by hiring Western experts. He allegedly told the National Institutes of Health that he had no financial ties to the Chinese programs when, Lelling’s office alleges, he was being paid by the Chinese.