Mayor’s Aides Plead Not Guilty to Extortion Charges

Kenneth Brissette and Tim Sullivan were arraigned in federal court.

Photo via Mayor's Office/Don Harney

Photo via Mayor’s Office/Don Harney

Two members of Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration were arraigned Tuesday, pleading not guilty to federal extortion charges alleging they withheld permits from the Boston Calling music festival in 2014 to coerce them into hiring union stagehands.

Kenneth Brissette, Walsh’s tourism czar, and Tim Sullivan, intergovernmental affairs chief and former AFL-CIO legislative director, appeared before Magistrate Judge Judith Dein and declined to comment after entering their pleas, the Herald reports.

The indictments are part of an ongoing federal investigation into alleged strong-arm union tactics at play in City Hall, headed by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. Brissette and Sullivan are accused of withholding permits from Boston Calling promoters until they hired eight workers from Local 11 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

A recent story published by the Huffington Post, critical of Ortiz and the labor probe, has raised questions over Walsh’s role in the hit piece; Dan Koh, Walsh’s chief of staff, previously served as Arianna Huffington’s chief of staff, as well as general manager for HuffPo Live. City Hall admitted it knew the story was coming, but denied any involvement.

The maximum penalty for the extortion charges in 20 years in prison. Brissette and Sullivan, who have been placed on paid leave, are due back in court August 18.