Notable cases in the judicial career of Mark L. Wolf

Federal judge announced he is retiring from full time duty after 27 years

US District Court Judge Mark. L. Wolf

US District Court Chief Mark L. Wolf, who announced today that he will retire from full-time duties, has been at the center of some of the state’s most high-profile cases in his 27 years on the bench. The federal judge oversaw the conviction of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi on corruption charges and ordered the Massachusetts department of corrections to pay for a sex-change operation for convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek.

2012: In a controversial decision, ruled that the state must pay for convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek’s sex change operation. Kosilek, formerly known as Robert Kosilek, strangled her wife to death in 1990.

2012: Approved a deal that created an alternative to disciplinary segregation for prisoners with severe mental illness following a series of inmate suicides in Massachusetts prison segregation units.


2012: Sentenced a hacker convicted of helping people steal internet access to three years in prison. The hacker, 28-year-old Ryan Harris, earned between $400,000 to $1 million for facilitating the theft of Internet access from cable companies.

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2011: Sentenced former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi to eight years in prison following his conviction on corruption charges. Wolf said at the time that he hoped that DiMasi’s sentence would put a stop to Beacon Hill’s “culture of arrogance.”

2011: Allowed Massachusetts US District Courts to participate in an experimental program that allowed videotaping of civil cases. The District Court is one of 14 participating in the pilot program.

2003: Became the first judge in more than 50 years to sentence a defendant to death in Massachusetts, in the trial of serial killer Gary Lee Sampson. Sampson was convicted of killing 69-year-old Philip McCloskey of Taunton and 19-year-old Jonathan Rizzo of Kingston after they picked him up hitchhiking.

1990s: Oversaw Mafia trials including the prosecution of reputed New England Mafia boss Raymond Patriarca Jr.; reduced a prison sentence for Mafia member Vincent Ferrara following wrongdoing by prosecutors.


1990s: Held several hearings that revealed the FBI’s corrupt relationship with informants Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and James “Whitey” Bulger. The exposure instigated investigations within the FBI and Justice Department that led to obstruction of justice and racketeering charges against ex-FBI agent John Connolly.

1995: Ruled that the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council could exclude gays from the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade under the First Amendment. The ruling overturned the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 1994 ruling that gay and lesbian groups must be included in the parade. Gay and lesbian groups today are denied participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and instead march in their own parade, held one hour after the main parade.

Compiled by Christina Prignano/Globe Correspondent.