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Chuck Turner, Boston settle suit over City Council ouster

Former Boston city councilor Chuck Turner received a $106,000 settlement from the city after the state’s highest court ruled that he was improperly thrown out of office after his bribery conviction.

The Supreme Judicial Court had ruled that the City Council overstepped its authority when it voted Dec. 1, 2010, to oust Turner. A month earlier, a jury had found Turner guilty of accepting a $1,000 bribe and lying about it to the FBI.

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Under state law, Turner would have been automatically removed from office Jan. 25, 2011, the day he was sentenced to prison. But the council decided not to wait.

After the rebuke from the Supreme Judicial Court, the city offered Turner roughly $11,000 in back pay, according to the city and Turner’s attorney. Turner sought $350,000.

The $106,000 settlement, announced Thursday, was determined as follows: $30,000 for Turner; $75,985 for his attorney, Chester Darling; and $1 each for the 15 constituents who joined Turner’s suit against the city.

“Whenever government abuses its power, someone should push back,” Darling said as he suggested that the City Council received poor legal advice from its attorneys. “In this particular instance, the law department performed judicial malpractice and Chuck Turner got thrown under the bus.”

Stephen J. Murphy, City Council president, said he plans to file a home rule petition to change the state law so that elected officials convicted of a crime in the future would be removed from office.

“I don’t think the taxpayers should be on the hook for $106,000 because the law is inadequate,” Murphy said.

Turner was sentenced to three years in a federal prison in West Virginia.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at
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