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Zoning board member resigns amid bribery scandal

This condo development at 27-29 H Street in South BostonThe Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Craig Galvin, a Dorchester realtor and member of the Zoning Board of Appeal who has come under scrutiny amid a bribery scandal tied to City Hall, resigned from his post this weekend.

Galvin, 50, sent a brief letter to Christine Araujo, the board’s chairwoman, announcing his resignation. “It has been a great honor to serve the city of Boston. Thank you for the opportunity,” the letter stated. It did not state a reason for the resignation.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh said late Sunday that the mayor accepted the resignation, and that the mayor continues to investigate the implications of wrongdoing within the Zoning Board. Last week, the mayor commissioned Brian Kelly, the former head of the public corruption unit within the US attorney’s office in Boston, to conduct an independent review.


The resignation is the latest fallout from the investigation. On Friday, one of the mayor’s top advisors, William “Buddy” Christopher, said he would go on a temporary leave pending the investigation.

Christopher headed the Inspectional Services Department, which provided administrative duties for the zoning board. He was also the original architect for the development at the center of the bribery scandal, before he started to work for the Walsh administration in 2014, and his son continued to oversee the project after his appointment.

Though there was no immediate evidence of wrongdoing, Christopher said he would step aside to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest.

“It continues to be a top priority to get to the bottom of what happened here,” said Walsh spokeswoman Samantha Ormsby. “We anticipate having our questions answered through [the independent] review, and Mayor Walsh is taking the action needed until we know more.”

Galvin released a statement late Sunday confirming his resignation, but it did not address the bribery scandal. The statement said only that Galvin “has been honored to serve the neighborhoods of Boston where he was born, raised and has built his business. Due to the broad role of a zoning board member and as the board moves forward in their next chapter, Mr. Galvin felt it best to tender his resignation.”


The investigation relates to a federal complaint two weeks ago that charged John Lynch, a former city employee with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, with bribery for taking $50,000 to help a developer receive a favorable vote before the Zoning Board of Appeal.

Lynch, 66, who until recently was the assistant director of real estate at the Economic Development Industrial Corporation, has agreed to plead guilty at a hearing scheduled for Thursday. He faces 46 to 57 months in prison under an agreement reached with federal prosecutors.

According to prosecutors, Lynch used his position “to instruct and advise the Zoning Board member to vote in favor of a permit extension. . . in exchange for the payment of a cash bribe from [the developer] to defendant Lynch.”

The permit extension raised the value of the property by $500,000, according to prosecutors.

The prosecutors did not identify the zoning board member or the developer.

But two people familiar with the investigation confirmed that the project at issue was a condo development at 27-29 H Street in South Boston, and that the developer was Steve Turner. Turner did not respond to requests for comment.

Turner sold the property in January 2018 to a different firm for $3.2 million — twice what he had paid nearly four years prior, according to deeds filed in Suffolk County. That second firm is now building the 11 condos.


A Globe review found that Turner needed a key vote from the ZBA in May 2017 to extend a zoning variance that had originally been granted four years earlier.

But, after he failed to appear for the meeting, the ZBA rejected an extension for the variance, a vote that should have killed the project. For unexplained reasons, the project appeared on the ZBA agenda two weeks later, and was approved without further debate.

Galvin was the only zoning board member to vote against killing the project at the initial ZBA meeting in May 2017, and he made the motion to approve the project two weeks later.

Several board members told the Globe they do not recall how the project reappeared on the board’s agenda, though they voted in favor of it the second time. They denied having a relationship with Lynch.

Galvin has not responded to Globe requests for comment. He has a documented business relationship with Lynch.

Last year, Lynch built a duplex condo building on a property next door to his home on Ashland Street in Dorchester, with the two units selling for nearly $1.5 million. Galvin’s real estate firm, the Galvin Group, said on its website that it served as a consultant to Lynch’s project.

It also served as the listing agent for the sale of the condos, according to the listings on Zillow and Redfin and Galvin’s own site.


Galvin had served on the ZBA since 2016, when he was named to one of the seats set aside for real estate agents. Greg Vasil, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said the Dorchester real estate agent had expressed interest in the post when it came open in 2015, and was one of four names the board submitted to the mayor’s office for two spots.

After his initial term, Galvin was reconfirmed by the City Council last month.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia. Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.