Tierney Gets Prison Time

Who is more deserving of prison - Congressman John Tierney, or his wife Patrice?

A federal judge today sentenced Patrice Tierney, the wife of Democratic US Representative John F. Tierney, to 30 days in jail for aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns.

"There must be an actual sanction," US District Judge William G. Young said in imposing the sentence, noting the importance of protecting the tax system, which depends on citizens' voluntary compliance. Patrice Tierney must begin serving her sentence on Feb. 28.

Well, let's see. Patrice looked the other way as her fugitive brother funneled millions of dirty dollars into an account she managed to pay his bills while he was on the lamb. Her husband John, with a fudiciary responsibility to the people of Massachusetts, and financial reporting responsibilities as a member of congress, says he knew about the account being managed out of their den in Salem, but asked no questions.

Young also ordered Tierney to serve two years of supervised release, the first five months of which she will spend on house arrest.

Tierney pleaded guilty in October to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false returns for her brother, a federal fugitive who has been indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering.

Well, you decide for yourself. In my book, I'd be happy to see Patrice walk if John had to come clean. The fact that she's taking a fall in order to keep him from practicing the good government openness he believes he represents is a problem to me. He's paid by the people of the 6th to represent us, not to hide his shady dealings while acting like he's God's gift.

Tierney originally agreed to a plea deal offered by prosecutors that called for two years of probation with 90 days of home detention, plus a $2,500 fine and $400 in court costs.

But Young warned her at an October hearing that he need not abide by that deal. By pleading guilty, Young warned her, she was accepting responsibility and the possibility of a heavier sentence.

When the feds came knocking, what was Patrice to do? If she fights the charges, John risks questions and a media firestorm, and that could lead to him losing his seat. If she cops a plea, she becomes another in a series of Tierney Family Felons, but the records gets sealed and John gets to keep his career. Someday, they might even be invited back to the White House.

Young said today he wanted to impose "actual jail time." While a federal prosecutor argued that Tierney had suffered enough because of the publicity given to the case -- her husband successfully ran for reelection in the fall -- Young noted that a 30-day sentence would be normal in such a case.

Law enforcement officials said Tierney's brother, Robert Eremian, ran a large-scale illegal gambling business in the United States from the early 1980s through the beginning of 2010. State Police raided his Lynnfield office in 1996, leading Eremian to move the business's headquarters to Antigua, but the business continued underground in Massachusetts, Assistant US attorney Fred M. Wyshak Jr. told the court in October. 

John's malfeasance should now be investigated, but the chances of that are pretty lean. 30 days in the hole for Patrice may not be justice, but it's justice once removed.

Patrice Tierney began overseeing her brother's Massachusetts affairs after he returned to Antigua. Between 2003 and 2009, prosecutors charged, she managed a banking account that collected more than $7 million in illegal gambling profits. Over that time, prosecutors allege, Patrice Tierney paid bills for his three children and their ailing mother, balanced the account, and provided information to his tax preparer, resulting in false tax filings, prosecutors said.

Tierney will be allowed to leave her house arrest for work, to attend religious services, go to medical appointments, and care for her mother, the judge said.

Herald reporter Laurel Sweet said on Howie's show that John Tierney stood far away from his wife as they left court so they couldn't be caught in the same shot today. The same strategy he's been using all along.