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Press Release

Sham Church Director and Professed “Enforcer” Edward Mackenzie Sentenced to 12 Years for Looting Church

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

BOSTON – Edward J. MacKenzie, Jr., a self-professed “enforcer” for James “Whitey” Bulger, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison in connection with his decade-long scheme to siphon off the considerable financial assets of a Beacon Hill Church.

MacKenzie, 57, of Weymouth, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $754,569 in restitution.  In sentencing MacKenzie, Judge Saylor imposed a sentence two years above the guideline range, “struggling to find any redeeming qualities in Mr. MacKenzie.”  Judge Saylor also noted that MacKenzie had, among other things, apparently used his daughter to facilitate the commission of the charged offenses.

 “Edward MacKenzie preyed on the vulnerable, intimidated the altruistic, and wove a web of lies and fraud for more than a decade,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.  “He had literally led a life of crime and now faces a well-deserved twelve years in federal prison.”  

In October 2014, MacKenzie pleaded guilty to 13 counts, including RICO conspiracy, racketeering, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.  Judge Saylor also cited MacKenzie’s lengthy criminal history, most of which had gone unpunished.   

In September 2002, MacKenzie became a member of the Boston Society of the New Jerusalem Church, which was one of the first Swedenborgian churches in Massachusetts, and in 2003, he became the “Director of Operations,” a position that had not previously existed and paid him a salary as high as $200,000 per year.  In order to drain the Church of its assets, he began voting himself and his associates into positions of authority within the Church, and consolidated and fortified his control by, among other things, changing the Church’s by-laws for his own benefit.  MacKenzie was able to gain control over substantial Church assets, including an 18-story apartment building in downtown Boston, because the Church had a small number of voting members, many of whom were elderly.

After obtaining control, MacKenzie stole Church funds through a combination of fraud, deceit, theft, and bribery.  Moreover, MacKenzie intimidated and threatened individuals who were employed by and did work at the Church by, among other things, providing them with signed copies of his 2003 autobiography, Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob.  In the autobiographyMacKenzie admitted to a lengthy criminal history, including burglary, robbery, armed assault, and narcotics trafficking.

As stated in court documents, MacKenzie’s crimes cost the Church millions of dollars and deprived the needy who relied on its charity.  Judge Saylor questioned MacKenzie’s remorse and sincerity due to the fact, as the government noted, that since his incarceration on this case in May 2013, MacKenzie has continued to commit crimes in prison, including fraud, extortion, and witness tampering.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz, Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary Hafer and Dustin Chao of Ortiz’s Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit.

Updated March 6, 2015