Mass. congressman’s wife to plead guilty to tax charges related to brother’s gambling business

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rep. Tierney’s wife to plead guilty to tax charges

BOSTON — The wife of Congressman John Tierney is set to plead guilty to federal charges she helped her brother conceal income from an alleged illegal offshore gambling business that generated millions of dollars.

Patrice Tierney, 59, of Salem, will plead guilty Wednesday afternoon to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns related to her fugitive brother, Robert Eremian, prosecutors said.

The congressman said his wife believed Eremian’s income came from selling or licensing software to legal Internet gambling businesses.

Tierney, a seven-term Democrat who is facing Boxford attorney Bill Hudak, a Republican, in next month’s election, said his wife accepts full responsibility for being “willfully blind” to her brother’s actions.

“I stand by Patrice in this difficult time,” Tierney said in a statement.

Hudak (HOO’-dak) called on Tierney to make public what he knew about his wife’s role.

“Certainly, I’m disappointed to hear the allegations against the congressman’s wife, and the very first thing he needs to do is to fully disclose what he knew and when. I think he owes that to his constituents,” Hudak said Wednesday.

Hudak said voters will “draw whatever conclusions they feel appropriate” about the charges against Patrice Tierney.

If convicted, Patrice Tierney faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release and fines of as much as $100,000 on each of the false tax return counts.

Donald Stern, Patrice Tierney’s lawyer, said that under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend she receive probation with several months of home confinement. Stern, a former U.S. attorney, said he’ll ask for straight probation with no home confinement when she is sentenced later.

During the late 1990s, Eremian, 57, moved the headquarters of his illegal gambling business from Lynnfield, Mass., to Antigua, where he operated Sports Offshore, a website and toll-free telephone line, to service his U.S. customers, according to the charging document filed in court by the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

Prosecutors allege he deposited profits from Sports Offshore into an account at Bank of America in Massachusetts.

Patrice Tierney allegedly managed some of her brother’s financial and family obligations through the account.

Prosecutors say she gave information to his tax preparer that mischaracterized her brother’s income as commissions and his employment as a computer consultant.

Eremian allegedly employed dozens of people in the United States who recruited customers and collected gambling debts and sent the money to Antigua. Eremian is accused of funneling millions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds to relatives in the U.S.

John Tierney, who represents the 6th District in northeastern Massachusetts, said his wife acted in good faith when she agreed to take care of her brother’s finances in the U.S. to help care for their ailing mother and serve as a de facto second mother to his three teenage children.

The congressman said his wife was devastated to learn her brother might have deceived her and others.

“Patrice has acknowledged and agreed that she should have done more to personally investigate the true nature of Mr. Eremian’s business activities in the course of carrying out his requests in paying his children’s household expenses, family medical bills, and his personal bills and taxes from a checking account in which he deposited funds,” he said in a statement.

Eremian and another sibling, Daniel Eremian, face charges including racketeering, money laundering, operating an illegal gambling business and witness tampering.

Two other people, Richard Sullivan of St. John’s, Antigua, and Marblehead, Mass., as well as Todd Lyons of Beverly, Mass., face racketeering charges. Sullivan is also a fugitive, prosecutors said. They did not specify whether Lyons was in custody or had been released on bail.

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