SPRINGFIELD -- Chicopee's mayor was arrested yesterday, a week before Election Day, after federal agents said they videotaped him taking $10,000 in cash from two business owners seeking favors from the city.
Richard Goyette, 36, a Republican running for a second term, was arrested yesterday morning and charged with extortion. He did not enter a plea and was released on personal recognizance following an initial appearance in US District Court in Springfield. A grand jury is now expected to hear the case.
Goyette and his lawyer, John Ferrara, declined to comment as they left the courthouse.
''The alleged conduct of Mr. Goyette is an unconscionable breach of the public trust and only serves to undermine citizens' confidence," US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said at a press conference. ''Citizens rightfully expect public officials to uphold the best interests of all constituents without expecting cash contributions to do their job."
An FBI affidavit unsealed yesterday describes a pair of surveillance videos, both shot Sept. 2, that allegedly show Goyette accepting two $5,000 cash contributions, one apiece from two business owners who agreed to cooperate in the investigation.
One witness, identified by investigators as ''Concerned Citizen 2," is the owner of a towing company who said he gave Goyette the money to keep his contract with the city. The man said he gave $2,500 to Goyette's 2003 campaign in hopes of securing the contract, investigators said.
''It became clear that Goyette expected to receive substantial campaign contributions from towing companies that did business with the city of Chicopee," FBI Special Agent Susan Kossler said in her sworn testimony.
On the video, according to affidavit, when the towing company owner takes the cash from his desk drawer, Goyette says, ''What, no envelope?"
On the same day, Goyette went to the office of a Chicopee developer, dubbed ''Concerned Citizen 4," and allegedly pocketed another $5,000 in exchange for a guarantee that problems with the man's development project would be smoothed over.
That exchange also was videotaped, the FBI said.
A woman who answered the phone at Goyette's house declined to comment.
Goyette faces Democrat Michael D. Bissonnette in the Nov. 8 election.
Sullivan said the timing of the arrest had nothing to do with the fact that Goyette is up for reelection next week.
''The last thing we want to be accused of is influencing the political process," he said.