US Rep. Tierney says he’s flabbergasted by his brother-in-law’s statements that he knew about gambling business

Daniel Eremian spoke to reporters about his brother-in-law, US Rep. John Tierney, outside US District Court in Boston.
Daniel Eremian spoke to reporters about his brother-in-law, US Rep. John Tierney, outside US District Court in Boston.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

US Representative John Tierney said today that he was flabbergasted by his brother-in-law’s statement that he “knew everything” about the illegal betting business his brother-in-law was involved in.

“My initial reaction was just incredulous. Where did that come from? And why is he saying something that’s so obviously wrong?”Tierney said in a telephone interview, one of a series of interviews he gave to the media today.

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“Obviously, he’s troubled. He’s got issues. He’s angry on that,” he said.

Daniel Eremian surrendered to federal authorities this morning to begin serving a three-year sentence stemming from his illegal gambling conviction. At the federal courthouse in Boston just before he turned himself in, he insisted that he “told the truth’’ when he said Tierney — who is married to Eremian’s sister Patrice — knew about the illegal business.

Eremian told the Salem News on Thursday after his sentencing that Tierney “knew everything that was going on.” Eremian also said Tierney “sat in the boxes with bookies at Fenway Park.”

He also told the News that his sister was “railroaded” into pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2010 to save her husband’s political career. “She got forced to do that for him,” Eremian said.

Eremian, dressed in a white T-shirt and black sweat pants, smoking a Marlboro cigarette near the entrance of US District Court in South Boston this morning, insisted that he told the truth, but declined to elaborate.

“I am not going to say anything else,’’ he said.

Tierney said he thought Eremian might have been shocked at his sentence.

“I don’t think he expected to get the sentence that he got, maybe, and maybe he thought that I should have done something as congressman to make his case go away,” Tierney said.

He also scoffed at Daniel Eremian’s assertion that he went to Fenway Park with bookies. “My first reaction to that was Fenway Park holds 37,000 people – there probably was a bookie there,” Tierney said. “But he sure as hell wasn’t with me. I mean, I don’t go to that many games, but the ones I go to, I knew who I was with, and they weren’t bookies.”

Two years ago, Patrice Tierney was accused of helping another brother file false tax returns. She handled Robert Eremian’s affairs while he allegedly — with the help of his brother Daniel — ran a massive offshore gambling ring based in Antigua.

John Tierney said he first learned that the Eremian brothers allegedly ran an illegal gambling business when they were charged in 2010.

“I never learned about it until we found out that this case was going to court,” he said. “And at first, I’m not sure I believed it then. I was like, what, are you kidding me? What are you talking about?”

When Patrice Tierney agreed to a guilty plea with federal prosecutors, the judge who heard her case specifically asked her whether she was pressured into the plea deal.

On Thursday night, she issued a statement of her own, saying she was shocked and saddened that her brother Daniel would tell the Salem News something so “utterly false ... in a moment of desperation and anger.”

“My husband has been nothing but supportive of me during this time, especially during my decision making process in the fall of 2010 when I took responsibility and paid a price for it,” she said.

This morning, Daniel Eremian said he spent Thursday night with his family, and had a steak dinner with a bottle of Cabernet. “I spoke with my family and I said goodbye, what else are you going to do?”

“I broke the law and I’m going to pay, that’s all there is to it,” he said before tossing his cigarette into the trash and walking into the courthouse, where he was expected to turn himself in to US Marshals.

Eremian’s inflammatory statements threatened to shake up the reelection bid of Tierney, an eight-term Salem Democrat who was already viewed as vulnerable. Republicans view Tierney’s Sixth Congressional District seat as winnable, based on the negative publicity surrounding his family and the strength of the GOP challenger, former state Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei.

Before and after Patrice Tierney’s conviction, Republicans hammered the congressman, suggesting he must have been aware of the gambling enterprise based on the size of the operation and his wife’s handling of her brother Robert’s finances. Her father and son had initially been involved in the gambling ring, too, a prosecutor said in court.

But Tierney vigorously denied the insinuations and expressed indignation earlier this month when Tisei called for the Tierneys to forfeit any money gained from a criminal gambling enterprise.

US District Judge Patti Saris this morning denied an emergency motion for release pending appeal filed by Eremian and co-defendant Todd Lyons.