You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Former Assistant Director of Real Estate for the City of Boston Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Filing a False Tax Return

BOSTON – The former Assistant Director of Real Estate working for the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with accepting $50,000 in bribes.

John M. Lynch, 66, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery involving an organization receiving federal funds and one count of filing a false federal tax return. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing for Jan. 24, 2019. According to the terms of a plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison, one year of supervised release, a fine and forfeiture.

“The residents of Boston deserve honesty and integrity from their public officials, whether elected or appointed,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Government is supposed to work on behalf of – for the benefit of – all citizens, and public officials, paid with taxpayer dollars, should be above reproach. John Lynch’s actions were an affront to these ideals.  This office will pursue and prosecute all public officials whose greed leads them to breach the public trust and break federal law.”

“John Lynch saw more value in lowering his ethical standards than raising the profile of Boston as a metropolitan mecca for economic growth and prosperity. Today, he finally accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct, admitting he accepted $50,000 in bribes to help a real estate developer secure a key vote from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Putting one’s official position up for sale to help others cash in further erodes the public’s trust in their government and cheats them out of the honest services they deserve.”

“Public officials, whether elected or appointed, hold positions of trust in the eyes of the public. That trust is broken when they abuse their authority and commit crimes,” said Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Boston Field Office. “Mr. Lynch used his influence at the BPDA in exchange for a substantial bribe, then failed to report $60,000 on his tax return. As part of a steadfast law enforcement team, IRS will continue to hold financial fraudsters and tax evaders accountable.”  

In 2017, a Boston real estate developer sought to sell a parcel of residential real estate in Boston, but needed Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approval to extend a permit that would allow the property to be sold as a multi-unit development. In order to secure the permit extension, the developer agreed to pay $50,000 in bribes to Lynch, in return for Lynch using his influence at the BPDA to secure a vote from a ZBA member. In May 2017, the ZBA member voted to grant the permit extension, enabling the developer to sell the property at an additional half million dollar profit that the developer otherwise would not have received. Per their agreement, the developer then paid Lynch $25,000 in cash and gave Lynch a $25,000 check, which Lynch used to pay a personal bill. Lynch then failed to report those and another $10,000 payment he had received from the real estate developer on this 2018 tax returns.

The charge of bribery involving an organization receiving federal funds provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater, and forfeiture. The charge of filing a false federal tax return provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $100,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Lelling, FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta, and IRS-CI SAC O’Connell made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Chao of Lelling’s Public Corruption Unit is prosecuting the case.

Public Corruption
Updated January 11, 2021