The Boston Calling Extortion Trial Has Evaporated

That's a wrap on a case that brought unwanted attention to City Hall.

A side view of Boston City Hall

Photo via iStock/Pixonian

The Boston Calling extortion trial, which ensnared two aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and roiled City Hall, has come to an abrupt end after a judge’s ruling this week.

Judge Leo T. Sorokin brought the trial’s end closer when he decided this week not to change the instructions given to members of the jury about what, exactly, constitutes a violation of federal extortion law as defined in the Hobbs Act.

Prosecutors had asked Sorokin to reconsider a decision to tell members of the jury that in order to convict, it would have to be proven that the aides, Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan, sought a personal benefit by threatening to withhold permits for the music festival unless organizers hired union laborers. But Sorokin refused, saying their interpretation of the law was too broad. So prosecutors said they couldn’t prove their case, the trial was canceled on Wednesday, and Sorokin dismissed the charges on Thursday. The prosecutors, assistant US attorneys Laura Kaplan and Kristina Barclay, plan to appeal.

City Hall is surely celebrating the decision. This case has dragged on since 2016 and raised questions about what was going on behind the scenes after the new mayor, who had enjoyed a lot of union support during his campaign, took over.

“I appreciate this being brought to resolution,’’ Walsh said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing our focus on moving the city forward and working to expand opportunities for Boston residents, every day.”

There had been some speculation that it could damage Walsh’s re-election campaign; Walsh won re-election by a wide margin last year.

The Globe reports that Brissette and Sullivan are now expected to be back to work soon.