By WGBH News
Dec. 29, 2011
BOSTON — State Attorney General Martha Coakley visited “Greater Boston” on Dec. 19 to discuss several of her office’s pending concerns as the year drew to a close.
Coakley is urging the Commonwealth to proceed with caution as it makes casino gambling a reality. Among other concerns, she’s previously warned that gambling could bring an upsurge in organized crime.
“I firmly believe that this has got to be a highly regulated, overseen business. We know that we’ve put a lot of safeguards in. I think there’s more that we need,” she said. “ I think the regulatory agencies and the commission, once it’s formed, have a lot on [their] plate. And we’ve got to watch every minute to make sure the expectations of the Legislature, and people here in Massachusetts who wanted this, are going to be accurate.”
That warning comes as Coakley prepares to make her pick for the new five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Who will that person be? “The Legislature has asked me to pick someone who has experience with criminal investigations and law enforcement. We have posted for that position,” she said. The job will be full-time.
Coakley is envisioning a lawyer, prosecutor or current or former law enforcement official — who will be carefully screened for potential conflicts of interest.
(Think you’re qualified? Applications are due Jan. 9, 2012.)
She approved of Gov. Deval Patrick’s choice of Stephen Crosby to lead the commission, she said.
The AG’s office is investigating former Chelsea Housing Authority head Mike McLaughlin, Coakley said. According to the Boston Globe, he worked only 15 full days in 2011 — at a salary of $360,000.
“The facts as alleged — I understand why people are angry about it. They should be. I’m angry about it. It’s an incredible misuse of funds,” Coakley said.
Coakley explained the goal of her office’s lawsuit against five national mortgage lenders. The lawsuit came after over a year of the state participating in a nationwide negotiation with the banks.
“What we’re really looking for is accountability of the banks and real relief for homeowners here. Every day that this goes on we have people being foreclosed upon — unnecessarily foreclosed upon,” she said.
She disagreed with a charge from a Federal Reserve economist that the suit could prolong the foreclosure crisis. “We haven’t had the relief that we should except when we’ve brought suits,” she said.