Richard Vitale, the politically connected former accountant and lobbyist, is seeking a plea deal in connection with his alleged illegal lobbying case in Massachusetts.
Vitale stands accused of allegedly violating state lobbying and campaign financing laws after receiving $60,000 to work on behalf of Massachusetts ticket brokers to help shepherd a ticket resale bill through the state legislature. Ticket brokers were not accused of any wrongdoing.
The bill was stalled in the legislature for three years after details of the scheme came to light in 2008, but a new ticket resale bill was introduced in the legislature this summer.
Vitale’s trial is scheduled to begin in October, but he and his legal team are appearing in court September 7 to discuss a possible plea deal with state prosecutors.
Martin Weinberg, Vitale’s attorney, told the Boston Globe that the two sides have conducted “ongoing discussions” about a plea deal, but he did not elaborate. “Whether they result in finality will be determined on September 7.”
Vitale allegedly took the money from brokers but did not register with the state as a lobbyist. In addition, he allegedly sought to use his friendship and influence with former state Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi and Speaker Pro Tempore Thomas Petrolati when he spoke and met with them on numerous occasions about the proposed legislation, which would have made ticket resale legal in the state. Vitale also allegedly passed along information to legislators that he had received from the ticket brokers about specific changes to the bill, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office.
If a plea deal is not reached, and Vitale is convicted of the charges at trial, he could face as much as two years in prison and fines totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
Over the summer, Vitale was acquitted of separate federal corruption charges in relation to a different case involving DiMasi and others, under which the defendants were accused of allegedly taking bribes and trying to use their influence to steer $20 million worth of state computer software contracts to a Canadian company called Cognos.
DiMasi and Cognos lobbyist Richard McDonough were convicted on corruption charges in that case and could each face 10 years or more in prison. A fourth defendant, former Cognos salesman Joseph Lally Jr., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. DiMasi and McDonough are scheduled to be sentenced next month.