Diane Wilkerson to be Sentenced December 22

Attorneys for a former Massachusetts state senator who pleaded guilty to accepting $23,500 in bribes are complaining that federal prosecutors are trying to persuade a judge to sentence her to more than the four years maximum called for under a plea agreement.

Boston Democrat Dianne Wilkerson pleaded guilty in June to eight counts of attempted extortion after she was captured on video stuffing bribe money into her sweater and bra. She was charged with accepting the bribes to help get a liquor license for a nightclub and an undercover agent posing as a businessman who wanted to develop state property in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock has scheduled Wilkerson’s sentencing for Dec. 22 after listening to a prosecutor and defense lawyer argue over what factors the judge should consider when sentencing her.

In a sentencing memo filed in November, prosecutors said they would ask for a sentence of four years, which is higher than what is recommended in federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors cited Wilkerson’s conviction in 1997 for failing to pay $51,000 in federal income taxes and numerous campaign law violations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil wrote that Wilkerson has “repeatedly demonstrated that she believed that she was above the law.”

During a hearing to set her sentencing date, Wilkerson’s lawyer, Max Stern, suggested that prosecutors were paying “lip service” to sticking with their recommendation for a four-year sentence, but appeared to be trying to get Woodlock to impose an even higher sentence.

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