|Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives|
September 28, 2004 – January 27, 2009
|Preceded by||Thomas Finneran|
|Succeeded by||Robert DeLeo|
|Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives|
from the 3rd Suffolk district
January 1979 – January 27, 2009
|Preceded by||O. Roland Orlandi|
|Succeeded by||Aaron Michlewitz|
Salvatore Francis DiMasi
August 11, 1945
North End, Boston, Massachusetts
|Alma mater||Boston College Suffolk University Law School|
Salvatore Francis "Sal" DiMasi (born 1945) is a former Democratic state representative in Massachusetts. The former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives originally joined the state legislature in 1979, as a member of the Democratic Party. He eventually resigned from this post in January 2009, just six months prior to being indicted on several Federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud. DiMasi was found guilty on 7 of 9 federal corruption charges on June 15, 2011. DiMasi is the third consecutive Massachusetts house speaker to be federally indicted.
DiMasi went to college at Boston College and studied law at Suffolk University Law School. He was born and raised in the North End of Boston, home to Boston's Italian American community for over 100 years. He was the Commonwealth's first Italian-American to be elected speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Early life and education
Salvatore F. DiMasi grew up in a cold water flat in Boston’s North End where he lived with his parents Celia and Joseph DiMasi, his two brothers, and Italian immigrant grandparents. DiMasi graduated from Christopher Columbus High School (1963) and went on to earn a BS in accounting from Boston College (1967), and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School (1971).
From 1974–1976, DiMasi served as a Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney. During the same period, DiMasi co-founded the North End Neighborhood Task Force, with neighborhood activist Emile Pugliano, to address issues of zoning, gentrification and crime in Boston's North End. He also opened a private law practice, focused on criminal defense cases.
In 1976, DiMasi ran for state representative against three term incumbent O. Roland Orlandi (D-North End). DiMasi's 1976 state representative campaign was unsuccessful. Two years later, DiMasi ran again for the third Suffolk County state representative seat—and won. In 1979, DiMasi took office as state representative.
While in office, DiMasi served as chairman of the committees on Banks and Banking, the Judiciary and Criminal Justice. He eventually rose to among the ranks to become Assistant Majority Whip, Majority Whip and Majority Leader. In September 2004, DiMasi was elected Speaker of the House.
Soon after becoming Speaker of the House, DiMasi sponsored legislation to make health insurance available for all Commonwealth residents. DiMasi worked with legislative leaders and a coalition of diverse stakeholders, from the health care and business community, to craft Massachusetts’s landmark health care law. In April 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed the first-in-the-nation universal health insurance bill into law. As a result of the law, Massachusetts reduced the number of uninsured adults by nearly half within the first year of mandatory health coverage and increased the percentage of people receiving routine preventive care, according to the first major study of the 2006 law conducted by the Urban Institute.
In 2007, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick submitted a bill that would allow the construction and operation of three resort-style casinos in the state. He argued that these casinos would generate $2 billion for the state economy and add $400 million in annual casino revenue and $200 million in fees per license to the state coffers as well as add $50 million to $80 million in sales, meal, and hotel taxes. He also touted that the casinos would create 30,000 construction jobs and 20,000 permanent jobs.
Patrick's proposed that the revenue generated would be spent to beef up local law enforcement, create a state gambling regulatory agency, repair roads and bridges ($200 million), gambling addiction treatment ($50 million) and the remainder would go towards property tax relief.
DiMasi strongly opposed the plan, questioning the governor's job and revenue projections, and was opposed to what he referred to as a casino culture, saying: "Do we want to usher in a casino culture—with rampant bankruptcies, crime and social ills—or do we want to create a better Massachusetts for all sectors of the society?"
On March 20, 2008, the Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected Patrick's casino bill by a vote of 108 to 46. Despite the overwhelming vote, questions were raised by critics of DiMasi as to the tactics he used to win. These included allegations that he promised a subsequent vote on a bill that would allow slot machines at the state's four racetracks and the pre-vote promotions of six lawmakers who had been thought to support the bill, but either abstained or voted against the bill. DiMasi denied that any promise had been made on the race track bill and denied that the promotions were connected to the casino bill vote.
According to The Boston Globe, "DiMasi and three of his close friends and associates are the subjects of the Ethics Commission probe and other investigations relating to large payments the associates received from Cognos ULC ..." an IBM owned company based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with a United States headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts. The Globe also said that "One of the associates, Richard Vitale, DiMasi's accountant, also accepted payments from ticket brokers who were seeking to gut state antiscalping laws." The contracts in question, a $4.5 million contract for the State Board of Education and a $13 million contract for the State Information Technology division, were rescinded after the alleged Ethics violations came to light. IBM, which did not own Cognos at the time of the alleged payoffs, has refunded all paid monies. On December 17, 2008, The Globe confirmed that a Federal Grand Jury probe had been launched investigating the charges.
On Sunday, January 25, 2009, DiMasi sent a letter to all members of the House informing them of his resignation from both his position as speaker of the House and his seat in the House, effective at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, January 27. His resignation made DiMasi the third straight Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to leave office under a legal or ethical cloud. In 1996, then speaker Charles Flaherty resigned after being charged with income tax violations, and in 2004 then speaker Thomas Finneran resigned amid a federal perjury investigation. DiMasi was indicted on corruption charges on June 2, 2009.
On October 13, 2009, federal prosecutors added a count of extortion to the charges against DiMasi. With the added charge, DiMasi faced a possible 185-year sentence if convicted on all counts in the indictment. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Conviction and sentencing
On September 9, 2011, DiMasi was sentenced to eight years in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Lawrence Wolf and ordered to pay a fine of $65,000. The judge also sentenced DiMasi to two years of supervised release after completing his sentence. McDonough received a seven-year sentence.
Revocation of pension
Release from prison
In October 2016, federal prosecutors asked a federal judge to give early release to DiMasi due to illness after battling cancer.
In November 2016, Judge Mark L. Wolf released a 69-page ruling concluding that DiMasi, US Attorney Ortiz’s office, and federal prison officials convincingly demonstrated that DiMasi's health has declined so severely that further imprisonment was no longer warranted due to a severe illness. He was released from Federal Medical Center, Butner, on November 22, 2016.
In March 2018, a petition by DiMasi to vacate his sentence was dismissed by a district court judge.
- Dave Wedge and Laurel J. Sweet (2009-10-14). "New Sal DiMasi shocker". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- Paul McMorrow (February 2008). "King Sal". Boston Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
- Alan Greenblatt (2006). "The Deal in the Details". Governing Magazine.
- Kevin Sack (2007-09-18). "Study Finds State Gains in Insurance". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-03.
- David L. Ryan (2007-12-13). "Casinos considered for state". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Frank Phillips and Andrea Estes (2007-09-18). "Governor predicts a jackpot: Millions targeted for road, bridges, property tax relief: Proposal is hailed, faces turbulence on Beacon Hill". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Matt Viser (2008-03-06). "Patrick sends lawmakers brochure lauding casino plan: Softens figures on job creation". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Andrea Estes (2007-10-10). "Homeowners could get casino payout: Patrick bill to share windfall via tax cut". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Sean P. Murphy (2008-03-04). "DiMasi scoffs at casino job plan: Says governor's bid 'losing credibility'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Steve LeBlanc (2008-03-13). "DiMasi dismisses Patrick casino claims as "just rhetoric"". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Matt Viser (2008-03-21). "House rejects casino bill; backers vow to roll again: Racetracks, unions, tribe pursue strategies". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Glen Johnson (2008-03-21). "Charges of deals promised, fulfilled and broken in casino debate". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Casey Ross (2008-03-22). "Pols tapped by Sal changed vote on casinos". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Casey Ross (2008-03-22). "DiMasi's deep six". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Estes, Andrea; Viser, Matt (December 17, 2008). "Cognos Deals Face Federal Scrutiny". The Boston Globe.
- Sal Dimasi (2009-01-25). "DiMasi's letter to colleagues". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- Bayles, Fred (June 8, 2009). "How Will We Find Out?". BU Today. Boston University. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
- Aaron Wasserman and Dan McDonald (2009-01-27). "DiMasi departure sets off power struggle". MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- Wedge, Dave; Chabot, Hillary (June 2, 2009). "Ex-Speaker DiMasi, 3 others indicted on corruption charges". Boston Herald.
- Estes, Andrea; Viser, Matt (June 2, 2009). "Former House Speaker DiMasi indicted on corruption charges". The Boston Globe.
- Andrea Estes and Matt Viser (2009-10-14). "Case against DiMasi grows". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- Valencia, Milton J. (June 16, 2011). "DiMasi found guilty on 7 of 9 counts in kickback scheme". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- "Sal DiMasi gets 8 years for corruption, treasurer moves on pension". The Heral News. Fall River, MA. September 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Weir, Richard (September 9, 2011). "Sal DiMasi sentenced to 8 years in prison on corruption charges". The Boston Herald. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Travis Andersen; Martin Finucane (August 31, 2012). "Board revokes DiMasi's pension". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
- "Convicted Ex-Speaker DiMasi Loses Pension". WBUR. Associated Press. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
- Valencia, Milton J. (2016-10-13). "Prosecutors ask for Sal DiMasi's early release". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
- Valencia, Milton J.; Ellement, John R. (2016-11-17). "DiMasi to be released within a week". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
- Andersen, Travis; Valencia, Milton J. (November 22, 2016). "Facing illness, former Speaker DiMasi is released from prison". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- Sweet, Laurel J. (March 21, 2018). "DiMasi loses battle to overturn his conviction". Boston Herald. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
|Massachusetts House of Representatives|
| Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
William P. Nagle, Jr.
| Majority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
John H. Rogers
O. Roland Orlandi
| Massachusetts State Representative
for the 3rd Suffolk District
Aaron M. Michlewitz