After being sentenced for a racketeering and gambling conviction, the brother-in-law of US Representative John F. Tierney told the Salem News outside federal court today that the congressman was a “liar” and “knew everything” about the family gambling operation that landed his wife in prison last year.
Daniel Eremian, who is the brother of Tierney’s wife, Patrice, also told the News that Patrice Tierney was forced to enter a plea agreement in 2010 on a related tax fraud charge to save the congressman’s political career.
The statement threatened to shake up the reelection contest for Tierney, an eight-term Salem Democrat who is already viewed as vulnerable as he faces a challenge from former state Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei.
Tierney was reelected in November 2010, less than a month after Patrice Tierney pleaded guilty in US District Court for filing false tax returns for a second brother, Robert Eremian, who is still at large. She served 30 days in prison and five months of house arrest.
Prosecutors said she received $223,000 — which she described as “gifts” — from an account stocked with gambling proceeds as she paid bills for Robert’s children and their ailing mother. But she claimed “willful blindness” to the criminal enterprise in her family and the Congressman has vigorously denied any knowledge of a family gambling operation.
Daniel Eremian was sentenced to three years in prison today for his role in the gambling enterprise and was ordered to forfeit $7.7 million.
Tierney reacted with indignation earlier this month when Tisei said the Tierneys should forfeit any money they received from a criminal gambling enterprise.
“It is outrageous that Richard has decided to personally attack my wife and to fabricate so many claims against her,” Tierney responded in a statement. “Patrice is a grandmother, mother, and aunt who, in caring for her nieces and nephews, made an error in judgment. She accepted full responsibility and has paid the price. Patrice is not running for Congress and she should not be used as Richard Tisei’s personal punching bag.”
Tisei said today that Eremian’s statements raise questions about the congressman’s “fitness to serve.”
“It obviously confirms what the voters of the district realize and that is, there is no way that John Tierney could not have had knowledge as to what was going on,” Tisei said.
A Tierney spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.