Galluccio sent off to jail for a year

Alcohol violated house-arrest terms; Pressure builds to quit the Senate

By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / January 5, 2010

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State Senator Anthony D. Galluccio stood in a Medford courtroom yesterday, red faced and clearly shaken, as a guard pulled his hands behind his back and placed handcuffs on his wrists, preparing to take him to serve an immediate one-year jail sentence for violating the terms of his house arrest by drinking alcohol.

“He didn’t last a week,’’ said District Court Judge Matthew J. Nestor, who concluded that the Cambridge Democrat violated the alcohol restriction of his probation on Dec. 21, only three days after he was sentenced to home confinement following a hit-and-run accident in October that injured a 13-year-old boy.

Rumors of Galluccio’s relationship with alcohol dogged the senator for years, but never stood in the way of his political ambitions. A passionate politician, he decisively won over voters in 2007 despite his opponents’ digs at his character and judgment. But yesterday, it appeared he could lose his political career along with his freedom.

Senate President Therese Murray stopped short of calling on Galluccio to resign but pointedly urged him to think of those he represents. “The senator needs to consider what is in the best interest of his constituents and the Senate,’’ she said in the statement. “The Senate will meet Wednesday in full formal session, and we expect to take action, if necessary, at that time.’’

Wearing a crisp navy blue suit, his thin dark hair slicked back, Galluccio shook his head yesterday as Nestor rejected the defense argument that the test result was faulty.

The senator had previously argued that toothpaste caused the positive reading, but abandoned that defense yesterday, focusing more on the integrity of the device installed in his home to remotely monitor his breath for alcohol several times a day.

“I am satisfied the defendant ingested alcohol,’’ Nestor said. Then, as Galluccio’s mother and sister looked on, he was taken away to begin serving his sentence at the Middlesex House of Correction in Billerica.

The decision marked a stunning fall from power. Galluccio, a longtime leader in Cambridge politics and a former high school football coach, had styled himself as a mentor to children and teenagers.

A Senate aide, speaking anonymously, said that if Galluccio does not resign by tomorrow, the state Senate will probably consider an order referring the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee, which can censure, suspend, or expel Galluccio or call for his resignation.

Murray wants him to quit or be expelled, the aide said. She had already tried to persuade Galluccio to resign by reaching out to people close to him, the aide said, but Galluccio has not responded.

It was unclear late yesterday whether Galluccio planned to fight for his seat.

If he leaves the Senate, it would be the third time a lawmaker has left the Senate in disgrace in the past two years.

Dianne Wilkerson, a Roxbury Democrat, is facing corruption charges after being photographed by federal agents allegedly accepting a bribe, and James Marzilli, an Arlington Democrat, was indicted on charges of accosting four women in Lowell. Both resigned as their legal troubles mounted.

Galluccio, 42, showed up in court with a team of lawyers, three expert witnesses, two public relations representatives, and family and friends, several of whom testified on his behalf.

The prosecution presented only one witness: Michael Jacobs, a program manager for the office of the commissioner of probation and the person who installed the monitoring device in Galluccio’s home on Dec. 21.

Jacobs said that he called Galluccio several times that Monday to tell him he would be coming over to install the device, but was unable to reach him by phone. At about 2:30, he showed up at Galluccio’s Cambridge apartment. The state senator answered the door, a cup of coffee in his hand. He was speaking and acting normally, Jacobs testified. There were no open containers of alcohol visible, he said.

Jacobs installed the device in Galluccio’s office. After a practice test that did not count, he told Galluccio to blow into the device as though he were blowing into a balloon. A few minutes later, the machine beeped an alarm that indicated Galluccio needed to blow into it again. When Jacobs called the monitoring office in Boston, they told him Galluccio had tested positive for alcohol.

The test showed Galluccio’s blood alcohol content was .037, said Catherine Ham, the assistant district attorney who argued the case for the Probation Department. A second test that day came back positive, though the content was lower. Two more tests that day were also positive, but with ever-lower alcohol content levels.

“We’re not saying he was intoxicated,’’ Ham said. “What [the device] did indicate is he was not abstaining from alcohol.’’

The defense tried to refute the results, calling a witness who said the device, known as the BI Sobrietor, was not on a federal register that lists devices evaluated and approved for their accuracy.

George Hassett, one of Galluccio’s lawyers, called another witness, a Houston-based scientist who testified that according to hair and urine samples he studied, Galluccio had been abstaining from alcohol at the time of Jacobs’ visit.

Hassett also called three witnesses, including a legislative aide to Galluccio, who all said that they saw him at various points during the weekend and that Monday and never saw him drink.

Galluccio himself told the court that he was so surprised by the positive reading that he called the Probation Department repeatedly in hope they would give him permission to leave his home and go to the hospital for a blood test.

Galluccio had initially tried to blame the positive test reading on toothpaste, arguing that the ingredients could have triggered a faulty result.

Yesterday, he testified that he had brushed his teeth a few minutes before Jacobs arrived at his house, but that he did not know what triggered the result. “All I know is I did not ingest alcohol,’’ he said.

Nestor said he was not swayed by the eyewitnesses nor by the argument that something went wrong with the testing device.

“I don’t have any reason to believe the machine was not working,’’ he said.

Authorities have not pursued any alcohol-related charges against Galluccio for the hit-and-run crash in Cambridge the afternoon of Oct. 4, when he acknowledges he sped away after rear-ending a minivan carrying a family of four.

But a police report revealed that Cambridge police gave Galluccio a ride home 13 hours before the crash because the officers believed he was too drunk to drive.

Galluccio has twice been convicted of driving under the influence; he was pardoned for one of the convictions. In a third 2005 incident, a clerk-magistrate ruled that he had been drinking before causing a four-car accident in Boston, but that there was not enough evidence to warrant a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, whose office handled the case for Middlesex prosecutors to avoid a conflict of interest, praised Nestor’s decision to incarcerate Galluccio.

“To me, this is a public safety issue, nothing more,’’ Cruz said.

Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei said yesterday that he feels sorry for his colleague, whom he called “very personable,’’ but said he is no longer fit to represent his constituents.

“It’s a sad situation. . . . I feel terrible that he is in this situation,’’ Tisei, a Republican lieutenant governor candidate, said in a telephone interview. “But the right thing for him to do is to resign and allow his constituents to elect a replacement.’’

John Ellement and Andrea Estes contributed to this report. Maria Cramer can be reached at