11/8/07

Teamster embezzler makes political donation

A Massachusetts state representative running for the state Senate who recently got into a scrum with his opponent on the House floor was arrested after a scuffle with cops in 1988 and later unsuccessfully sued the town of Woburn for injuries he said he sustained in the fracas with police.

Rep. Patrick Natale, who is running for the seat vacated by former Sen. Robert Havern (D-Woburn), was arrested on charges of assault and battery on a police officer and disturbing the peace on May 24, 1988, outside his mother’s Woburn home. A Woburn District Court jury later found him not guilty.

The Herald also has learned that two of Natale’s opponents in Tuesday’s special Senate election, Rep. James Marzilli (D-Arlington) and Rep. Charles Murphy (D-Burlington), have received campaign contributions from convicted felons. Murphy and Natale (D-Woburn) got into a heated altercation over the race on the House floor last month, pushing and shoving each other.

Natale’s 1988 arrest occurred when police tried to pull him over for driving a car with an expired inspection sticker and a loud muffler. He later sued the Woburn Police Department, claiming cops used excessive force during the arrest that led to $17,000 in medical bills for a back injury.

He also claimed he “suffered extreme fear, rage, shame and humiliation” as a result of the bust, according to the suit. Police denied the charges and a jury tossed out the suit in 1995.

In an interview last night, Natale said he was “protecting” his mother from the officers during the incident and stood by the suit.

“I think I was right,” he said.

A member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue, Natale also has had financial woes, reportedly defaulting on $9,000 in credit card debt in 2001 and 2003 and failing to file income taxes in 2005. Nevertheless, he managed to loan his campaign $25,000 in 2004.

Natale said he fell behind on his bills after the arrest because he was injured and out of work. He later finished law school and paid off the debts.

“Look, I had some problems but I think I’ve gotten things together,” he said. “I like to think I’m a success story.”

As for Marzilli, records show he accepted a maximum $500 donation last month from Michael Ansara, a Democratic operative from Carlisle who pleaded guilty to a federal fraud, conspiracy and embezzlement rap in 1997. He was put on two years probation for his role in a scheme to illegally divert Teamsters Union funds.

Marzilli (D-Arlington) said he will not return the contribution. “Michael pled guilty and served his sentence. I think it’s time to move on,” he said.

Murphy, meanwhile, accepted a $50 campaign donation from former state Sen. Ronald MacKenzie, who served federal jail time in the 1970s for extorting money from a New York consulting firm. Murphy said he, too, will not return the contribution.

“Ron is a friend who has paid his debt to society,” Murphy said.

(news.bostonherald.com)

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