Feds: Somerville attorney tried to bribe police chief to get marijuana dispensary approved

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — The United States Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts announced charges against a lawyer from Somerville who allegedly tried to bribe a local police chief in an effort to secure approval for a marijuana dispensary.

54-year-old Sean O’Donovan was indicted on two counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

In late 2018, a company that cultivates and sells marijuana retained O’Donovan as a consultant to assist in getting a Host Community Agreement (HCA) from the City of Medford, according to the DOJ. In 2020, the City of Medford established a Cannabis Advisory Committee, composed of 5 Medford officials, including Chief Jack Buckley, to oversee marijuana retail applicants.

In February 2021, authorities allege that O’Donovan offered $25,000 to a relative of Chief Buckley’s to speak with him about securing an HCA for the marijuana dispensary in question.

The Chief’s relative immediately alerted federal authorities of the alleged bribe.

“This case is about attempted corruption of government officials. I commend the Chief of Police in Medford for reporting this illegal behavior to the FBI immediately,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “We must ensure that greed and unethical conduct do not undermine the proper functioning of city governments across our Commonwealth. This prosecution does just that.”

The charge of honest services wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of federal programs bribery provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the DOJ.

O’Donovan will appear in federal court on Friday afternoon.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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