US Rep. John Tierney sets up legal defense fund to pay attorney fees

US Representative John F. Tierney has set up a legal defense fund to help pay the attorney fees that he incurred while defending himself from allegations that he failed to disclose money his wife received from gambling proceeds.

The Salem Democrat created the John Tierney Legal Expense Trust on Sept. 19, two weeks after the House Ethics Committee concluded that it would not open an investigation into the allegations.

The committee’s decision officially ended the inquiry into a controversy that has made Tierney a top target for Republicans in his last two reelection campaigns.

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Kathryn Prael, a Tierney spokeswoman, said Wednesday that she was not immediately sure how much the congressman owes his attorneys.

Tierney had been defending himself from allegations that he should have reported on his taxes $223,000 that his wife, Patrice, paid to herself in the late 2000s while managing a joint bank account for her brother, a federal fugitive who was running an illegal gambling ring on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

Earlier this month, the Ethics Committee ruled that the evidence was inconclusive as to whether the money Patrice Tierney received was taxable income or a gift from a relative—as she and John Tierney have insisted—that would not be subject to federal taxes.

But the episode has taken a personal and political toll on the Tierneys. In 2011, Patrice Tierney spent 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns for her brother, Robert Eremian.

John Tierney, who was repeatedly attacked over the episode during his reelection campaign last year, narrowly defeated his Republican opponent, Richard Tisei.