Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Ben LaGuer bombshells?

In her column in today's Telegram and Gazette, Dianne Williamson suggests that not only does Ben LaGuer have more letters from Deval Patrick, he claims that someone tried to pay him to release them:

[Kerry Healey] was helped in her endeavor by supportive letters written by Mr. Patrick to Mr. LaGuer and to the Massachusetts Parole Board in the late 1990s. The letters to the Parole Board sought freedom for Mr. LaGuer; the letters to Mr. LaGuer were warm and addressed "Dear Ben." Two of the letters were made public by The Boston Globe after the newspaper obtained them from an archive at Northeastern University.

Last week, however, Mr. LaGuer said he was approached by an intermediary at the prison Oct. 18 and handed a telephone number jotted down on a piece of paper. If he called that number and read all the letters he's received from Mr. Patrick, he would be paid $50,000 to $60,000, Mr. LaGuer said he was told.

He said that offer was upped to $100,000 shortly after. The telephone number Mr. LaGuer said he received is the number for an attorney at [a Boston law firm].....

Steve Kenneway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said the grievance was filed after Mr. LaGuer complained to an officer that he was "visited by people he didn't know and was offered money for documents." According to Mr. Kenneway, the two male visitors were initially denied entrance but then escorted by management to a private area typically reserved for legal visits. The sergeant on duty wasn't allowed to be present for the visit, Mr. Kenneway said.

"There definitely is something strange about this whole scenario," Mr. Kenneway said. "There is absolutely something that went wrong with this visit. There was definitely a breach of protocol, and I can't get a straight answer from anybody."

A spokeswoman for the law firm said the charges were "'absolutely untrue'", and a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said they believe LaGuer made the story up.

Mr. LaGuer, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, said he rejected the offer to sell Mr. Patrick's letters. "If I did that, I would have no honor," Mr. LaGuer said. "The idea that I would take $60,000 to betray a friendship seems pretty outrageous. I have to live with myself here."

Mr. LaGuer claimed that he has more letters from Mr. Patrick than were obtained by The Boston Globe, although he indicated that they're not in his possession at the prison, partly because inmates aren't allowed to keep valuables in their cell.

I'm not sure I believe anything LaGuer says. I think he's a self-serving huckster who will do anything to keep his name in the papers. But suspending my own disbelief for a moment, if these allegations are true, there are two bombshells here:
  1. There are more "Dear Ben" letters from Deval Patrick to LaGuer.
  2. Someone (the article implies that it was the Republicans) wants to get this info so badly they were willing to pay LaGuer for it.
Can you imagine how devastating it could have been to Patrick's campaign if voice recordings of LaGuer reading the letters he allegedly received from Patrick were broadcast on your TV, radio, and on robo-calls? $100,000 would be chump change for that material. (I suppose you could also argue that the opposite is true: it would be worth that kind of money to "silence" LaGuer. Although if his story is true, getting the letters read out loud over the phone wouldn't suppress anything.)

In any event, I wonder if the first act of a Patrick administration will be to take phone privileges away from LaGuer. He's probably had enough of LaGuer referring to their "friendship." Honestly, does the guy have his own secretary too? Can any inmate take calls from reporters seemingly every day? Something tells me that Patrick's people don't think LaGuer is helping.

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