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Press Release

Former Attorney Sentenced for Bribery Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Massachusetts man was sentenced today to two years in prison for engaging in a scheme to bribe the chief of police of Medford, Massachusetts, to obtain approval for a client to sell recreational marijuana.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Sean O’Donovan, 56, of Somerville, paid a bribe to influence the Medford police chief to take official acts to benefit O’Donovan’s client, a recreational marijuana business. At the time, the chief had recently been appointed to serve on a committee that ranked applicants seeking to operate marijuana dispensaries in Medford on behalf of Medford’s mayor. Medford’s mayor had the ultimate authority to select three applicants to open retail marijuana stores in Medford.

In furtherance of the scheme, O’Donovan approached a close family relative of the police chief and offered to pay as much as $50,000 in tax-free cash to the relative in exchange for the chief’s official support for his client’s anticipated application to sell recreational marijuana in Medford. Specifically, O’Donovan sought to have the chief favorably rank his client’s application and, separately, to advise and pressure the mayor to select the client to open a retail marijuana store in Medford. O’Donovan was slated to receive a stream of income of at least $100,000 annually from his client’s marijuana business if its Medford application were successful. O’Donovan never informed his client of the bribery scheme.

After the relative informed the chief of O’Donovan’s corrupt offer, the chief immediately alerted federal authorities. Both the chief and his relative cooperated with the investigation.

On Oct. 27, 2023, a federal jury convicted O’Donovan of two counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy for the District of Massachusetts, Assistant Director Michael D. Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI Boston Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI Boston Field Office investigated the case.

Trial Attorney Jonathan E. Jacobson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina E. Barclay for the District of Massachusetts prosecuted the case.

Updated February 7, 2024

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 24-153