FBI Probed Former Mayor Tom Menino for Corruption

A newly released FBI file reveals a one-year investigation into the late Boston mayor.

Thomas Menino

Photo via AP

Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino was the subject of an FBI corruption probe following comments he made during a television interview in 2002, according to Menino’s FBI file obtained by WGBH Thursday.

In a June 2002 appearance on ABC-TV’s series Boston 24/7, Menino was filmed telling Sprint attorney Steve Miller that he would lose a city contract to AT&T if he didn’t donate $25,000 to a city-run youth basketball league. “What’s at stake for Sprint are contracts to provide telephone service for City Hall and other city agencies,” the narrator said. From the file:

During the course of their conversation, Menino threatened to give a Boston Housing Authority contract to AT&T, a Sprint competitor, because AT&T is sponsoring a summer youth program while Sprint has done nothing. [Redacted] is present in the segment and is also shown on the television broadcast making statements suggesting that Sprint will lose the contract if they fail to make the donation. [Redacted] also assists the Mayor in pressuring Sprint to make the donation.

The 29-page file details the bureau’s brief investigation into the matter following an article in the Boston Herald questioning the appropriateness of the conversation. Both Menino and Miller dismissed the comments as a joke, and as the Boston Globe noted in 2002, there was no real contract at stake–the city had relied on AT&T, Verizon, and Nextel for years, with no plans to change.

“I’m so frustrated,” Menino told the Globe. “The way I look at the issue is we’re trying to get a partnership with the company. We do this almost every day of the week. Create partnerships.”

Though an assistant U.S. Attorney initially felt the case had “prosecutive merit,” the FBI closed Menino’s case in September 2003 without pursuing charges after conducting interviews and reviewing the city’s contracts with the telecommunications giants.

Read the FBI’s file on Menino here.