By Julie Manganis
SALEM — A federal judge has ruled that a brother-in-law of Congressman John Tierney must forfeit more than $7.7 million in proceeds from an illegal gambling ring he was convicted of helping run.
Daniel Eremian, 62, a former Peabody resident now living in Florida, was found guilty of criminal charges of racketeering, conspiracy and gambling in December and is scheduled, along with co-defendant Todd Lyons of Beverly, to be sentenced on June 28.
The same order, issued Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris, finds Lyons, who the judge said essentially ran the operation in Massachusetts, liable for $24.5 million in proceeds.
The judge's ruling comes more than two months after a three-day forfeiture trial in U.S. District Court in March. The two men waived their right to a jury trial in favor of letting Saris make a ruling in the case.
In that proceeding, conducted after the criminal jury trial, prosecutors sought to hold Lyons and Eremian jointly liable for some $41 million in what they argued were proceeds from the "Sports Off Shore" gambling operation they say was headed by Robert Eremian.
Robert Eremian and a fourth person, Richard Sullivan, are considered fugitives, refusing to leave Antigua to stand trial.
Saris rejected part of the government's claim, finding that the defendants can be held liable only for gambling income that they could "reasonably foresee."
The judge noted in her 33-page decision that while Daniel Eremian, the former owner of Brodie's Pub in Peabody, helped set up the operation in Massachusetts, he did not know Lyons and wouldn't have a way of knowing exactly how much money Lyons was taking in.
At the same time, the judge rejected claims by lawyers for Eremian and Lyons that the sanction was "grossly disproportionate" to the crime and to the potential maximum penalty they are facing at sentencing.
The lawyers also argued that it was unfair to hold the men accountable for all of the proceeds when a number of other actors in the scheme — SOS "agents" who testified against the men at trial — received immunity deals and got off "scot-free."
Marc Nurik, Eremian's attorney, did not return a call late yesterday seeking comment.
The Eremians are brothers of Patrice Tierney, the wife of the Salem Democrat.
Patrice Tierney, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to abetting Robert Eremian in filing false tax returns and served a month in prison, became a witness against Daniel Eremian during his criminal trial last fall.
During that testimony, she acknowledged handling checks that had been made payable to various entities, including one called Benevolence Funding, that prosecutors argued were actually shell corporations set up by Robert Eremian to hide the true source of the money.
She has said she did not believe her brothers were engaged in anything that was illegal, even as she visited Robert Eremian's home in Antigua.
During her brother's trial, when questioned about whether she ever discussed her brothers' business with her husband, Tierney invoked her marital privilege.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.