Ex-Mass. housing director pleads guilty

Posted: 02/19/13 at 11:30 am EST      Last Updated: 02/19/13 at 10:49 pm EST

BOSTON (WHDH) -- The former director of the Chelsea Housing Authority pleaded guilty to four federal counts of falsely reporting his salary.

Michael McLaughlin, 67, formally pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

He was charged last month with knowingly concealing his salary in annual housing authority budgets from 2008 to 2011 and submitting them to state and federal housing regulators.

Authorities allege that in the 2011 fiscal year, McLaughlin reported his annual salary as $160,415, when his actual salary was at least $283,471 and his total compensation was at least $324,896. He is also accused of falsely reporting his income in 2008, 2009 and 2010. McLaughlin resigned in 2011.

Now McLaughlin’s plea is drawing scrutiny to his relationship with Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. The plea includes a recommendation from the government that McLaughlin face a lighter sentence, which is fueling a lot of speculation that when he goes down, he’s taking a lot of high profile people with him.

The four federal charges each carry a 20 year sentence, but the feds could recommend much less.

When 7News asked McLaughlin what the plea means about potential cooperation with the feds, his lawyer, Tom Hoopes, responded, “No comment, thank you very much.”

Hoopes, who also serves as our 7News legal analyst, refused to talk about anything. Hoopes said he has no comment on the case in regards to Lt. Gov. Tim Murray either.

McLaughlin, a long time friend of the Lt. Governor is also being investigated for illegal fundraising for Murray. Those potential charges have nothing to do with his guilty plea today.

Murray's campaign spokesman says: "He [Murray] is comfortable with the way he conducted himself" and repeated what Murray himself said about McLaughlin a few months ago when Murray announced he would not be running for governor.

“Clearly he was somebody who was misleading a whole bunch of organizations and people, myself included and he's gonna be held accountable for that,” said Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.

McLaughlin is also being held accountable by the government. The plea agreement reached with the government clearly states that the deal is off the table if McLaughlin doesn't answer truthfully any questions it asks him about anyone or anything.

McLaughlin said he pleaded guilty voluntarily. He will be sentenced May 14 at 2 p.m.

(Copyright (c) 2013 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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