BOSTON (CN) – A Boston city councilman who was convicted of felony bribery claims the City Council does not have the power to remove him from office – though it’s already done so. Charles Turner – who will be sentenced at the end of January – demands his job back, along with 14 co-plaintiffs who say they voted for him.
Turner was convicted in October 2010 of taking a $1,000 bribe from an FBI informant. City Council President Michael Ross told Boston media that the Council was “very cautious and deliberate in our actions,” and Turner’s federal complaint indicates that Ross is correct about the Council’s caution and deliberation. (Ross turned over the presidency of the Council on Monday.)
Turner was elected to the City Council in 1999, and re-elected every 2 years since then, most recently in 2009.
Turner’s complaint states that he was arraigned on federal charges of bribery and lying to federal investigators on Nov. 22, 2010 – that, however, is a typo. Turner was charged in 2008.
Then-City Council President Maureen Feeney called a special meeting for Nov. 24, 2008, “regarding the Turner arraignment,” according to Turner’s complaint.
Feeney removed Turner from his chairmanships of the Committees on Education and Human Rights and asked the city’s attorneys for legal counsel.
On Dec. 16, 2008, Feeney appointed a former federal judge “to serve as an independent fact-finder to investigate bribery charges against Councilor Turner,” according to Turner’s complaint.
The complaint adds: “On or about December 10, 2008, City Councilor Charles Turner was indicted for felonious conduct in federal district court. … On or about October 25, 2010 Councilor Turner was convicted of felony counts in federal district court.”
But Turner, and the 14 co-plaintiffs who say they voted for him, claim that “he has been the subject of an ex post facto rule of the City Council that imposes a punishment greater than that proscribed [sic] under M.G.L. c. 279 §30,” and that “the charter language upon which the [city] rule was founded does not apply to removal from public office.”
Turner claims the city violated the 1st and 14th Amendments and 42 U.S.C. §1983.
He adds that the city caused him “humiliation, emotional distress and loss of income.”
Turner’s job pays $87,500 a year.
The City Council also deprived him of “his ability to advocate as an elected official on behalf of his constituents,” Turner said. Turner represents District 7, Roxbury. He is, or was, the highest elected official from the Green Party in Massachusetts.
He seeks a hearing on a request for an injunction.
He is represented by Chester Darling of Andover.