A former Malden mayoral aide and city solicitor admitted to his role in a money laundering scheme with ties to organized crime during a court appearance Monday.
From a witness box in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Charles Toomajian, 55, admitted he used a bank account tied to his private law practice to filter money stolen from a staffing company in Wakefield to pay off bookmakers around Boston.
Toomajian appeared in court before Judge Jane Haggerty to plead guilty to charges of larceny and accessory after the fact to a felony.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop a conspiracy charge. Toomajian is scheduled to be sentenced May 28, and faces up to seven years in state prison on the charges.
Toomajian served as an intermediary between Charles Davis, formerly of Stoneham, and bookmakers to whom Davis was deeply indebted, according to court filings. Davis bilked his employer, Randstad, out of $1.86 million between 2006 and 2009 by writing company checks that were cashed to pay off his gambling habit and to place more bets, according to prosecutors.
Davis sometimes wrote the checks directly to bookmakers, and on other occasions sent the money to Toomajian first, who deposited it in his law firm’s bank account, and then distributed it to pay off Davis’s debts, prosecutors said.
Between 2006 and 2009, Toomajian received dozens of checks from Randstad totaling $659,525. In turn, he sent payments to bookmakers around the Boston area or paid them off in other ways, prosecutors said. In one case, Toomajian made mortgage payments on a bookmaker’s home, prosecutors said.
It is unclear how Toomajian benefited from the scheme. From the witness box on Monday, he said he knew many of the checks were to pay off Davis’s debts, but that he believed some checks were related to Randstad’s business operations.
“I thought some of those checks were going to legitimate vendors of Randstad,” he said.
At the time Toomajian was initially indicted in October 2010, he was working as a special assistant to Richard Howard, then mayor of Malden. Toomajian had previously spent about a decade as the city solicitor.
Toomajian maintained a private law office in Malden while he worked for the city. None of the charges he faces were connected to the city of Malden or Howard. Howard decided not to run for reelection in 2011, and became the Winchester town manager in January 2012.
Howard could not be reached for comment Monday.
Toomajian was one of 31 people charged in what investigators called the “Rossetti Criminal Organization, ” which was connected to heroin and cocaine trafficking, marijuana distribution, loan sharking, extortion, embezzlement, and gambling. Mark Rossetti of East Boston, identified as the leader of the crime ring, last month pleaded guilty to usury and extortion and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Many of the payments Toomajian made went to Joseph Giallanella, 64, of North Andover, who is described by prosecutors as the leader of the gambling arm of Rossetti’s organization. Six checks, totaling $135,949, were written from Toomajian’s law practice as direct payments to a mortgage on a home Giallanella owned, prosecutors said.
Giallanella received a two- to four-year state prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to charges of managing a gaming enterprise, criminal usury, and being an accessory after the fact of larceny.
Along with paying off Davis’s debts, Toomajian sent money to individuals who would place bets for Davis, who could no longer find a local bookie who would take his wagers, Assistant District Attorney John Dawley said in court Monday.
“He owed just about every bookmaker on the North Shore. . . ,” Dawley said, adding that Davis was “shut off by every bookie in Greater Boston.”
Davis appeared briefly in court Monday, but did not enter a plea. He faces charges of conspiracy, larceny, and making false entries in corporate books.
After Toomajian entered his guilty pleas, his lawyer, Thomas Drechsler, submitted to the judge a stack of letters written by people who know Toomajian well that he asked be considered as she ponders sentencing.Jarret Bencks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JarretBencks.