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News - 2019

Aug. 2019

Howard Cooper quoted in Law360 article on fallout of Boston Calling extortion verdict

Howard M. Cooper is quoted in a Law360 article analyzing the potential impact of the conviction of two Boston City Hall aides related to pressuring a music festival to hire union workers.

Following a two-week trial in federal court in Boston, the jury found Kenneth Brissette, Boston's tourism director, guilty of extortion, as well as conspiracy to commit extortion, and found Timothy Sullivan, the city's head of intergovernmental affairs, guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion. They both resigned from their positions following the verdict.

Federal prosecutors alleged that the two officials used their positions and influence to pressure the Boston Calling music festival into hiring union labor that festival organizers didn’t want or need.  The union had been threatening to picket the festival if no union workers were hired.

Legal analysts, including Mr. Cooper, questioned whether the actions of the defendants in attempting to broker a resolution of the labor dispute was a criminal violation, especially since they were acting as public officials in representing their constituents and were not seeking personal gain.

"This really does cry out for an appellate court to bring clarity here so people have a clue," Mr. Cooper said.  "Otherwise, who in their right mind would want to be a public official?"

The federal trial court judge is weighing a motion by the defendants for an acquittal despite the verdict.  The judge previously dismissed the charges, but was overturned on appeal. 

Mr. Cooper, a Founding Partner of the firm, regularly handles white collar criminal cases, including defending individuals targeted for prosecution in federal and state court in public corruption matters.