Wilkerson sentencing set for Jan. 6; new testimony aired

Former state Sen. Dianne WilkersonFormer state Sen. Dianne WilkersonThe judge who will sentence former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson on Jan. 6 said testimony given on Dec. 22 by a local contractor is “relevant” to her case and will have an impact on his decision.

The contractor, Azid Mohammed, gave sometimes contradictory testimony, saying he gave Wilkerson over $5,000 between 2002 and 2006. He said Wilkerson requested the payments to help offset bills she had to pay at a time when she was reviewing his development project in Roxbury.

She would directly or indirectly request the funds, Mohammed said, and had asked him to help her raise $10,000 for her sticker campaign when she was ousted in a Democratic primary in 2008.

Mohammed said he approached Wilkerson because the project needed political support and she was the elected official for the area.

“If there’s no political support, it’s pretty much dead,” he said.

During his testimony, Moahmmed acknowledged that he never asked Wilkerson to file legislation on his behalf during the four-year period he was giving her money. But he also acknowledged that he asked her to support his development project in front of the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2007. The project did not get off the ground.

After Mohammed’s testimony, Judge Douglas Woodlock told the defense and prosecution teams that he will factor in the testimony, since money was provided to Wilkerson and she was aware one of the reasons for it was to have influence on a government official.

Woodlock also said he is also focusing largely on the “deterrence” factor — that is, handing down a sentence that deters people from violating laws like she did.

Wilkerson, a Roxbury Democrat, pleaded guilty in June to accepting $23,500 in bribes. She was arrested in 2008, after losing a Democratic primary to Sonia Chang-Diaz.

Her sentencing was delayed until Jan. 6 because of the number of issues that had to be dealt with at Wednesday’s evidentiary hearing. The hearing was necessary because prosecutors and Wilkerson attorneys disagreed over whether the money Mohammed gave Wilkerson was an illegal donation or a gift.

The judge also acknowledged the “very forceful” letters that supporters have written on her behalf, pleading for a lighter sentence than the four years prosecutors are recommending. The letters focus on her efforts to help the poor and underprivileged.

But he added that helping constituents is part of a public official’s job, though Wilkerson appeared to do it “more than most.”

Wilkerson did not take the stand, though prosecutors argue she should because of statements made in court documents on sentencing filed by her defense team. Prosecutors say some of the statements are unsupported by testimony in the case and they want an opportunity to cross-examine her.

The judge did not rule whether she can be called to the stand by prosecutors.

When the top prosecutor, John McNeil asked whether he should be prepared to take testimony from Wilkerson on Jan. 6, Stern appeared to render the point moot, saying, “I’ll make it easy, she’s not going to testify.”

For part of Wednesday’s hearing, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz sat in the back row and observed the proceedings.

During his testimony, which he gave under immunity, Mohammed disputed the affidavit of one of Wilkerson’s sons, Cornell Mills. Mills, who is weighing a run for former City Councillor Chuck Turner’s seat, wrote in court documents that he had run into Mohammed some time after Wilkerson was arrested, and Mohammed used swear words regarding the case and had told him that prosecutors had him “by the balls.”

“I swore before but I didn’t tell Cornell they had me by the balls,” Mohammed said.