SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 12, 2013

Ethics Committee closes Tierney probe

By Bethany Bray
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — The U.S. House Ethics Committee announced yesterday it will go no further with its investigation of Rep. John Tierney.

In a press release, the bipartisan committee said “evidence was inconclusive” on whether Tierney should have disclosed the money his wife, Patrice, received from her brother in return for managing a bank account for him.

The Salem Democrat has said the money was a family gift and did not need to be disclosed under congressional rules.

Prosecutors in a 2010 case against Patrice Tierney said she received $223,000 from her brother, a figure the Tierneys have disputed.

Yesterday, the Ethics Committee issued a statement saying the evidence, “does not warrant a finding that Representative Tierney intentionally mischaracterized the nature of the payments for financial disclosure or tax purposes.”

The 10-member committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), voted unanimously Tuesday night to close the matter and said it will take no further action. The issue had been sent to the Ethics Committee in June by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

In a prepared statement, Tierney thanked the group yesterday for its “unbiased and expedited review.”

“After three years of politically motivated, partisan attacks on this issue, I look forward to putting it behind me,” Tierney wrote. “The focus belongs on the residents of the 6th District. I appreciate all the constituents who have stood with me during this difficult time, and I remain committed to fighting for our local families and communities.”

Tierney’s office said yesterday the congressman is setting up a fund to cover the legal expenses of the Ethics Committee’s three-month investigation, for which he is responsible.

The longstanding issue involves Patrice Tierney’s brothers, Robert and Daniel Eremian, who prosecutors say ran an illegal offshore betting business in Antigua. While her brother Robert Eremian was living out of the country, Patrice Tierney managed a bank account for him here. She wrote regular checks to herself from that account, which she characterized as gifts from her brother.

In 2010 she pleaded guilty to helping her brother file false tax returns, and admitted to being “willfully blind” to the illegal source of her brother’s millions. She served 30 days in prison, followed by two years of probation, including five months of home confinement.

Daniel Eremian was convicted of racketeering and illegal gambling and sentenced to three years in prison. Robert Eremian remains a fugitive from justice and is believed to be living in Antigua.

Congressional rules say family gifts do not have to be disclosed, and the Tierneys have maintained the money was a gift, in gratitude for Patrice’s help in caring for her brother’s family and their mother.

Others have questioned whether the money should be regarded as payment for handling her brother’s bank account, in which case the income should have been disclosed.

Since the allegations first surfaced in 2010, Tierney has been re-elected twice, once beating Boxford Republican Bill Hudak, and again this past fall in a close race against former Republican state Sen. Richard Tisei.

Next year, Tierney is facing two challengers for the Democratic nomination, from former Marine and Salem resident Seth Moulton and from Middleton attorney Marisa DeFranco.

The House’s 10-member Ethics Committee includes Massachusetts Democrat Michael Capuano.

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.