Dianne Wilkerson, the first black woman elected to the Massachusetts Senate, was sentenced on Thursday to 3 ½ years in prison , after pleading guilty to eight counts of attempted extortion for taking $23,500 in bribes from a Boston business owner, Ronald Wilburn, who was cooperating with the FBI.
Wilkerson was a high profile member of the state Senate, where she served for nearly 16 years. She resigned in Oct. 2008 following her arrest on the bribery charges.
Wilkerson was infamously videotaped by FBI agents stuffing a roll of cash into her bra, on one of eight occasions that she received the bribes. Wilkerson took the bribes in exchange for her help in securing a liquor license for a nightclub and to intercede on a property development deal.
After her sentencing, Wilkerson told the press that the government’s action against her was “the most corrupt and outrageous abuse of the justice system.” Although she said she accepted her sentence, she added “My acceptance can’t negate the despicable actions of the government and its collaborators.”
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock handed down the sentence, also noting her conviction on tax evasion charges in the 1990’s and repeated violations of state campaign finance and ethics laws. Prosecutors earlier promised that they would recommend no more than four years of prison time, in exchange for the guilty plea.
The Boston Democrat said she wasn’t motivated by money and always worked hard to serve her constituents.