The chief of the state housing authority director’s association – a former close associate and admirer of former Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) Director Michael McLaughlin – has submitted a letter to Federal Judge Doug Woodlock to rescind his 2001 McLaughlin letter of recommendation.
Thomas Connolly Jr., executive director of the Mass National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (MassNAHRO), wrote to the judge on Monday that he didn’t want that old letter of recommendation being used as a supportive document in McLaughlin’s plea for a lighter sentence.
“In 2001 or so I wrote a letter to the chair of the CHA supporting Michael McLaughlin’s candidacy for the position of executive director of the CHA,” wrote Connolly. “Historically, Chelsea had been a troubled agency and previously had been placed in court-imposed receivership. Based upon recent revelations, and the tremendous denigration Mr. McLaughlin has inflicted upon the credibility and integrity of the public housing community, I retract that letter and sincerely regret having ever written it…I respectfully request that my 2001 letter not be considered as supporting any plea for leniency.”
Connolly said he believed McLaughlin to be an expert manager who had shown his worth in allegedly turning around the housing authorities in Lowell and Somerville. He said McLaughlin had served on his organization’s Board and on several important committees.
That impression, he said in this week’s letter, was a mistake.
“I do not know what the final outcome of his illegal activities might be, but I feel betrayed and duped by someone whom I truly respected professionally and personally,” wrote Connolly.
Finally, he informed the judge that McLaughlin was forced to resign from all committees and officer positions within MassNAHRO upon learning of the allegations against him in 2011.
“He was then and still is and embarrassment to the officers, directors and members of this professional association,” he concluded.
“⁉n other McLaughlin case news, Judge Woodlock has sealed all documents being shared between the federal prosecutors, McLaughlin’s Attorney Thomas Hoopes, CHA lawyers and Chelsea Citywide Tenants Association (CCTA) lawyers – meaning that the public is barred from reading or even knowing about their contents.
That order hit last Wednesday, June 19th, as all parties began sharing information about statements made concerning an obstruction of justice by McLaughlin, a new charge that could result in a significantly greater prison sentence. The statements came from witness James McNichols – former CHA Accountant – and a mystery witness whom the feds do not want to identify publicly. McLaughlin is said to have contacted both at some point last fall to try and work out a false story that would protect them from investigators.
Hoopes said he believes McNichols’s testimony is not credible, as McNichols has recanted some statements in the case already. No one knows who the mystery witness is or what he/she has divulged.