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US contends Turner perjured himself

Chuck Turner was convicted in October of attempted extortion and making false statements. Chuck Turner was convicted in October of attempted extortion and making false statements.
By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / January 14, 2011

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Prosecutors allege in court documents that former Boston city councilor Chuck Turner perjured himself during his federal corruption trial.

In documents filed in federal court in Boston that were made public Wednesday, prosecutors alleged that Turner, who was convicted Oct. 29 of attempted extortion and making false statements to FBI agents, lied under oath more than 15 times during his testimony. They alleged he lied by repeatedly saying he did not recall meeting with cooperating witness Ronald Wilburn in his district office in August 2007.

Turner also did not tell the truth when he said he did not know whether Wilburn gave him $1,000 cash in exchange for helping Wilburn secure a liquor license, among other falsehoods, the prosecutors maintained. A secret videotape played at the trial showed the money exchange, prosecutors said.

Turner, who was ousted from the City Council Dec.1, also lied when he said at one point during his testimony, “I’m here to tell the truth,’’ according to the court documents.

In separate court papers, Turner’s lawyer, Barry P. Wilson of Boston, said, “the government is now seeking to increase the defendant’s sentence based on their allegation that Mr. Turner somehow obstructed justice by testifying at his trial.’’

Turner is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 25.

Wilson was traveling out of the country last night and could not be reached for comment. Turner did not return a message left at his home.

A spokeswoman for US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, whose office prosecuted Turner, declined to comment last night when asked about the possibility of Turner facing perjury charges. Prosecutors told the US Probation Office in the documents that “the guideline calculation should reflect [Turner’s] perjury.’’

Turner’s conviction stemmed from the same corruption sting that ensnared former state senator Dianne Wilkerson, who was caught on videotape accepting five bribes totaling $6,500 from Wilburn in connection with the same liquor license and $17,000 from undercover FBI agents who sought help with a commercial development in Roxbury. She resigned, pleaded guilty in June, and was sentenced last week to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Prosecutors also said in the court papers that when FBI agents questioned Turner about his dealings with Wilburn shortly after Wilkerson’s arrest in October 2008, he “became angry and commenced a diatribe about the FBI and his belief that the FBI was a ‘racist’ organization and had a long history of being so.’’

Also, according to the documents, after Turner was arrested on Nov. 21, 2008, and driven to Worcester for an initial appearance before the assigned magistrate judge, he refused to get out of the vehicle and told agents, “I’m trying to make your job difficult.’’ He insisted agents carry him out of the vehicle and into the courthouse, prosecutors said, but got out on his own after being told that any resistance could affect his detention status.

Separately, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock denied, in a ruling made public yesterday, a request from Wilson to delay Turner’s sentencing until March, when the attorney is scheduled to return to the country. Wilson said his doctor recommended in December that he take several months off to recuperate from his “rigorous trial schedule.’’

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com.

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