The former Boston City Hall aide who was sentenced to 40 months behind bars after accepting a $50,000 bribe from a developer is being released early because of the COVID-19 risk at a local federal prison, according to a judge’s order.
In a Jan. 5 order, Judge Patti B. Saris allowed John M. Lynch to be released and instead serve two years of home confinement with an electronic bracelet. Saris stated Lynch, 68, is at high risk for COVID-19 “due to coronary and kidney issues,” and also referenced his age. The judge said that coronavirus cases have spiked at FMC Devens, where Lynch has been imprisoned, during the last three weeks.
“There are varying estimates from a high of 262 inmates to a low of 129 inmates, and multiple staff, the disparity may be due to double counting test results,” read the order. “Either way, Devens has become a hotspot.”
Lynch was exposed to COVID-19 because of a work assignment and “is presently in quarantine,” according to the judge’s order.
“While the crime of accepting bribes is serious, finishing the remainder of the sentence in home confinement on an electronic bracelet is sufficient but no greater than necessary in light of the high risk of COVID,” read the order. “Restitution has been paid. There is no threat to public safety or risk of flight.”
Lynch’s attorney, Hank Brennan, declined to comment on Wednesday. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ web site, Lynch had been slated to be released on Feb. 14, 2023. In a Wednesday e-mail, a bureau spokesman referenced that release date and added that “we cannot discuss release plans for any inmate.”
Lynch, who worked in City Hall for more than two decades, pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges that he took $50,000 to help a developer secure an extension of his permit for a South Boston condo development by persuading a zoning board member in 2017 to back the move after it had previously been rejected.
Federal prosecutors said the permit extension allowed the developer to sell the property at a profit of more than $500,000.
A photograph filed in federal court showed Lynch “grabbing thousands of dollars in cash as part of a corrupt bribe,” according to court records. Lynch had been assistant director of real estate at the Economic Development Industrial Corporation, which falls under the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
That corruption case rocked City Hall and cast a dark cloud over the city’s development process. William “Buddy” Christopher, a close Walsh ally who served as head of the city’s Inspectional Services Department at the time of the bribes, stepped down from his job at City Hall.
While no Boston Zoning Board of Appeal members were accused of taking bribes, Dorchester real estate agent Craig Galvin resigned from his post on the board amid reports he had worked with Lynch on private real estate projects.
Lynch was sentenced early last year.
Milton J. Valencia of Globe staff contributed to this report.