If there was ever a bigger con man around here than Eddie MacKenzie, I never met him.
Eddie Mac wrote the book on it.
Actually, he really did write a book, pretending he was one of Whitey Bulger’s closest associates, a legbreaker for the South Boston gangster. Some people bought the book and some people even believed it. For his part, Whitey insisted the only contact he ever had with Eddie MacKenzie was to chastise him for breaking into some old lady’s house in Southie and stealing her Hummels.
Some clowns in Hollywood were going to make a movie about Eddie, until it was pointed out that most of his claims, other than the ones about beating people up, were lies.
Then there was another old lady, Elisabeth von Bober. She had a thick Texas drawl and a thicker bank account. Her son had disappeared in murky circumstances. Eddie Mac made up some cock-and-bull story about tracing the kid to a jail in Cuba, and managed to get von Bober to fork over $350,000 to finance some phony baloney “rescue” mission that came up empty.
But the con of Eddie’s life, the absolute pinnacle of his swindling success, was worming his way into the Swedenborgian Church on the top of Beacon Hill. It was founded in the 18th century by some of the city’s greatest intellectuals and Eddie Mac, a street kid from Southie, somehow managed to cast himself as a poster boy for redemption and install himself as master and commander of the church, helping himself and his friends to its fortune.
Eddie made himself director of operations and paid himself 200 grand a year. But that was nothing compared to what he stole. He looted the church like the Vandals sacked Rome.
Eddie milked that sucker for all it was worth, for a decade, before his past finally caught up to him in the form of a federal racketeering indictment. He pleaded guilty last October and he will be sentenced by US District Judge Dennis Saylor next Friday.
On Friday evening, just as everyone was heading home after another long week, an assistant US attorney named Zach Hafer filed a 15-page sentencing memorandum about Eddie MacKenzie. After which, I’m presuming Counselor Hafer and his co-counsel Dustin Chao took a shower, because contained in those 15 pages are some of the grimiest acts of any criminal in the eastern district of Massachusetts.
While the Probation Department has calculated the amount that MacKenzie copped to stealing from the church at $539,599, Hafer says that between salaries for him and his cronies, MacKenzie cost the congregation and the needy who rely on its charities millions.
Hafer contends that MacKenzie’s depravity cost the church more than its reputation. MacKenzie used church funds to pay $28,000 for a drug treatment program for a teenager whom MacKenzie seduced after meeting her at an Al-Anon meeting.
Being the suave and sophisticated Casanova that he is, Eddie Mac took the girl to an Applebee’s on their first date. She was 15. He was in his mid-40s. Then, the memorandum alleges, he got her hooked on OxyContin. The girl’s father demanded that Eddie pay for her treatment, so Eddie turned to the blank check that was the church and paid for a four-month program in Michigan.
You might think that since he was taken into custody in May 2013, Eddie MacKenzie might have found, ahem, religion. But Hafer’s memo paints the portrait of an unrepentant, unrelenting degenerate.
Among the lowlights, Hafer wrote that MacKenzie instructed a girl “not to mention to this Court that she started dating MacKenzie when she was 14 years old because the judge might not understand; attempted to arrange for one of his daughters to have a sexual relationship in exchange for money with a ‘nasty’ inmate whom MacKenzie met in jail; encouraged his daughter to have sexual relations with his girlfriend while MacKenzie was in jail so that his girlfriend would not sleep with other men.”
Oh, and he encouraged his kids to lie for him and bribe potential witnesses against him. All while he was very busy himself, trying to defraud an insurance company.
This sordid stuff was going on while he was locked up. Imagine if Eddie Mac had been out on the street for the last 22 months?
Hafer’s memo notes that Eddie MacKenzie insists that the conversations intercepted while he was locked up “are taken out of context and could be misleading.”
Actually, knowing Eddie, they couldn’t be more revealing.
Probation officials calculated that, under federal guidelines, Eddie MacKenzie deserves a sentence between 8 and 10 years. But Hafer is asking for 12 years, an upward departure, because MacKenzie has gotten away with so much for so long.
Hafer uses MacKenzie’s own words against him, an excerpt from his book in which MacKenzie describes in loving detail how he bit one man’s ear off, swallowed the finger of another, and scalded someone else with hot coffee.
The sentencing memo contains some words that Eddie said to me in 2004 after he pleaded guilty and got probation for swindling 73-year-old Elisabeth von Bober. Eddie not only took her money for a phony search for her missing son, but he stole her $220,000 diamond ring, part of an elaborate ruse to persuade her that he could find anything. When he returned the ring that he had swiped from her apartment when she wasn’t looking, she was so impressed she took out her checkbook to pay for the search that never took place.
Of course, it wasn’t really her ring. It was a fake. Eddie had already pawned the real diamond.
“With my record,” Eddie Mac told me that day, 11 years ago, standing in the hallway of Suffolk Superior Court, “who am I to roll the dice with a jury while she plays the black widow?”
Whatever you think of Eddie MacKenzie, he always could add. Which is why, yet again, at 56, he is throwing himself on the mercy of the court.
He has skated, again and again, but even in this, one of the coldest winters on record, his skating days are over. He’s going to prison and by the time he gets out, Eddie Mac will be old enough to con Social Security. And, believe me, he will try.
“After far too many years of eluding justice and preying on society’s most vulnerable members,” Zach Hafer and Dustin Chao wrote, “the time has come for Edward MacKenzie to be held accountable.”
To which I can only say, “Amen.”