The Chief Judge of the federal district court in Boston told the defendant according to this article that he committed “an extremely serious crime.” The defendant was Ismael Morales, 36, a former maintenance worker. Morales was sentenced to two years in prison; that was the same amount of time as requested by the prosecutor.
On the other hand there is this matter involving taxi magnate Edward J. Tutunjian who was set upon after the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Series by U.S. Attorney Ortiz who raided his premises, seized all his records, and went through them with a fine tooth comb looking for crimes. Sure enough she found some as she would going through any cab company records.
Tutunjian did not pay the payroll taxes he was supposed to pay by concealing the full amount he was paying his employees (he paid part of their compensation in cash), he hired illegal aliens, and he underreported the amount of money he was paying his employees and some were able to get apartments in federally subsidized housing units.
What is strange about the case is Tutunjian’s company is only one of many cab companies. None of the others were raided by Ortiz’s office. I have to guess the practice of underreporting payroll by paying cash, which benefited both the company and the driver, is probably a common practice.
It just shows that if the Feds go after you, and in Tutunjian’s case it was done because of the newspaper article, they can find something. Do you think Tutunjian’s taxi company was the only one assisting its employees in getting into federally subsidized housing or paying in cash?
Tutunjian has signed a plea agreement with Ortiz’s prosecutors. In a strange coincidence the federal prosecutors are going to ask that he be sent to prison for two years, just like Defendant Morales. It is likely though that he will receive less time. He has agreed to pay restitution of 2.3 million for his unpaid taxes and overtime wages. Morales a poor guy could not pay any restitution.
As a young lawyer I heard the story of a banker who had embezzled $200,000 from the bank and gambled it away. The bank examiners were going through the books. The banker knew he would get caught so he sought out advice from a prominent criminal defense lawyer. The lawyer asked him if he still had access to the bank’s money. The banker said he did. The lawyer said go back and take another $200,000. You’ll give me $100,000 to represent you and we’ll return $100,000 as restitution and I can guarantee you that you won’t go to prison.
The similarity between Morales and Tutunjian case is more than the sentence; they were both involved in helping people get into subsidized housing. Morales took bribes to move people up the list; Tutunjian faked the amount of money they earned which accomplished the same thing. If Morales’s crime was “extremely serious” – he received $18,000 which he divided with the assistant property manager who probably got the larger share of the split – what they do you call Tutunjian’s?
Tutunjian’s underreporting of the income resulted in the renters paying much less than they should have paid since the amount of rent payment is based on their wages. These Section 8 properties mean the renters need not pay more than 30% of their adjusted income for rent. What they don’t pay the taxpayer picks up. If they have no wages they must pay $25.00 a month. By the way, “44% of Massachusetts properties and 26% of all properties across the country have Section 8 rental subsidies.”
One guy is a multi-millionaire setting up a system that has defrauded the taxpayers of countless amount of money over the years and the other makes less than ten grand helping people jump others in rent control housing. The poor guy gets slammed while the rich guy may walk.
Lately I talked to a person who told how years ago her mother was trying to get into government housing. She saw that she was at the bottom of the list. She knew a person who knew a politician. After a couple of calls that woman found herself at the top of the list. That reminded me that many people jumped the list by supporting the right politician. I’d have little doubt that well more than half of the people in those units got in through connections, gave a little gratuity or provided false reports of their income. None felt she was committing an “an extremely serious crime.”
The judge in hitting the poor maintenance worker with two years and calling his actions an extremely serious crime is out of touch with reality. She is the same judge who called a former Mafia leader Anthony Spagnolo “a frail gentleman” and gave him “20 months for collecting tens of thousands of dollars in protection payments ” over many years. There was no mention of that being an extremely serious crime.
The prosecutors in recommending the same sentence for Morales as they did for Tutunjian as they did for Spagnolo are likewise similarly situated. No wonder the American people are so up in arms this year. Someone should tell the prosecutors (who seem to fold against high paid lawyers) and the judges that “Poor Lives Matter.”