United States v. Wilkerson, No. 11-1069 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Former Massachusetts state senator Wilkerson, pleaded guilty to attempted extortion (18 U.S.C. 1951) based on her acceptance of money in exchange for favorable influence in her official capacity on issuance of a liquor license and sale and development of publicly-owned land. The district court received a lengthy presentence report, conducted a thorough hearing, and stated reasons for imposing a sentence of 42 months, near the middle of the guidelines. The First Circuit affirmed. The court’s statement that "tax violation by a public official is not a personal matter" is most plausibly interpreted as a segue to make a "larger point" about the public implications of an over-engaged official's failure to attend to her own legal responsibilities. Its statement that Wilkerson "was simply inattentive and inattentive in a way that permitted her to have access to money that she should not have had" was fair comment on the implications of non-compliance with campaign-finance requirements. Its statement that Wilkerson's engagement as a college "consultant" was one of "a series of very embarrassing things" she did in response to her financial troubles was specific to the circumstances of the arrangement. The district court's skeptical appraisal of the arrangement was reasonable.