NOVEMBER 28, 2006
More than 25 public employees have so far been convicted in the lengthy federal corruption probe of a Massachusetts city and investigators expect many more, including that of an influential former councilman charged with fraud, witness tampering, tax evasion an obstruction of justice.
The six-year federal investigation has focused mainly on the rampant fraud within the Springfield Housing Authority, which provides affordable shelter for the poor and implements educational programs with the goal of reducing long term reliance on public assistance. The agency’s former director and nearly a dozen others have already pleaded guilty for operating a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme that has robbed taxpayers out of thousands of dollars.
This week a Springfield Housing Authority maintenance foreman pleaded guilty to two felonies for his role in building the vacation home of a popular former Springfield councilman and Housing Authority director on taxpayer time and for concealing $11,000 in income from construction work at a taxpayer-financed charity run by that former councilman, Francis Keough.
A 50-count federal indictment unsealed earlier this year said that Keough, who became the director of Springfield’s homeless shelter after leaving politics, traded city jobs for cash, state-funded housing for sex with female shelter residents and board appointments for bonuses. The indictment charges Keough with stealing more than $225,000 in public salary payments and concealing other income and expenses to avoid paying federal income tax.
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