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Press Release

Former Assistant Director of Real Estate for City of Boston Sentenced for Accepting $50,000 in Bribes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

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

John M. Lynch, 67, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to 40 months in prison, one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $14,400 and to forfeit $50,000. The government recommended a sentence of 48 months in prison.

In September 2019, Lynch pleaded guilty to one count of bribery involving an organization receiving federal funds and one count of filing a false federal tax return.

“Mr. Lynch’s conduct illustrates the kind of pay-to-play scheme that, if left unchecked, destroys government institutions and the public’s faith in those institutions,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “This office will aggressively prosecute any public official, regardless of party or position, whose greed leads them to breach the public trust and break federal law.”

“It may be difficult for anyone who went to John Lynch’s office seeking nothing more than a fair shake to understand why a public servant one day points his moral compass toward personal ruin knowing how much he will lose in order to gain so little. But public corruption cases aren’t built around employees who appreciate what they have,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Palm-greasing at any level undermines a community’s faith in their government. The FBI encourages anyone who encounters or suspects municipal malfeasance to report it, and to help us to hold those who violate taxpayers’ trust accountable.”

“While John Lynch should have been exercising his authority for the benefit of the City of Boston and its residents, he instead lined his own pockets with ill-gotten proceeds and further sought to defraud the Internal Revenue Service” said Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent In Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Boston Field Office. “Today’s sentencing should serve as a reminder to those who seek to violate the public’s trust that you will be held accountable for your actions.” 

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 a 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.

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 prosecuted the case.

Updated January 24, 2020

Public Corruption