Patrick At The DiMasi Trial: What Are The Stakes?

By Sarah Birnbaum

May 25, 2011

Gov. Patrick is seen in his office at left; at right, DiMasi speaks outside of Boston's federal courthouse after being indicted in 2009. (AP composite)

BOSTON — Governor Deval Patrick will be called to testify  later this week or early next week in the corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal Dimasi. Dimasi is accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for steering lucrative state contracts to the software firm Cognos. 

When Patrick takes the stand, he will become the first sitting governor in 15 years to testify in a criminal trial.

Tufts University Political Scientist Jeff Berry predicts that the governor will come out unscathed.

“Patrick’s testimony is likely to be relatively simple and straightforward and I think he will survive this without too much damage to his reputation," Berry said.

Prosecutors will likely question Patrick about a 2007 breakfast meeting, when Dimasi allegedly tried to convince the governor to support the Cognos contract. The administration later agreed to buy the software for $13 million. But Patrick's office ultimately cancelled the deal following an investigation by the state Inspector General.

Patrick isn’t accused of any wrongdoing.  But Dr. Berry says there could be some political risks for the governor.

“There are two things. The first is that he has to appear that he wasn’t naïve and that he wasn’t conned by Speaker DiMasi. And the second is to make it clear that he was not a participant, even indirectly, in trying to direct state contracts to the Cognos company,” Berry said.

Patrick’s critics  have suggested that  he ignored a series of red flags about the contract because he was so focused on winning the Speaker’s support for his legislative priorities.  The administration has denied any such horse-trading.  And Patrick has said that his his administration has cooperated fully with the federal investigation. The Dimasi trial is now in its fourth week, and could last well into June.  If convicted, the former Speaker could get 20 years in prison.

Sign Up

Sign-up for WGBH News updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.




Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor