A Boston city official appointed under Mayor Marty Walsh is fighting federal charges of union-related extortion.
Kenneth Brissette, Boston’s director of tourism and entertainment, stood before a federal judge wearing the same grey t-shirt he threw on earlier Thursday morning, as FBI agents descended on his apartment and threw handcuffs on him. The 52-year-old said he was innocent of one count of extortion. According to the indictment, Brissette withheld event permits until organizers of the 2014 Boston Calling music festival hired union workers. Mayor Walsh defended Brissette as a – quote-- "good and hardworking person". And at a ground-breaking ceremony in East Boston he said he wasn’t just surprised; he was shocked by the indictment:
"I found out through a tweet from the United States attorney's office. We're going to work closely with the United States Attorney's office to get to the bottom of this investigation. I don't condone any of this kind of behavior or anything like this alleged in my administration."
The mayor was asked if he's worried that he might be indicted for allegedly acting on behalf of Teamsters linked to the Top Chef case?
"No, I know I've done nothing wrong in any of my doings as mayor of the city of Boston. I'm very confident of that. I'm confident of the way I carry myself and represent the city of Boston," said Walsh.
No, I know I've done nothing wrong in any of my doings as mayor of the city of Boston. I'm very confident of that. I'm confident of the way I carry myself and represent the city of Boston.
Union construction workers from a nearby work site who were on hand called the indictments of both Brissette and Teamster members "anti-union."
"Why do I think it's anti-union? Because it's a political nightmare that they're going after the unions. If a non-union worker gets indicted they will say 'John Smith of Peabody got indicted.' They won't say 'John Smith of Peabody non-union worker gets indicted,'" said a union worker.
Meanwhile, Brissette has been placed on paid leave. He's posted the $25,000 bond and is due back in court on July 12.
Brissette's federal indictment is the first to his Boston City Hall in 20 years.