Walsh orders review of ZBA amid bribery investigation

Mayor Martin Walsh has ordered a comprehensive review of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) amid an ongoing federal investigation that has prompted a longtime city housing official to plead guilty to accepting a bribe from a real estate developer.

Last Friday, John M. Lynch, 66, agreed to plead guilty to accepting $50,000 from a real estate developer in exchange for using his official influence to secure a key ZBA vote that favored the developer. Lynch is Dorchester resident who has worked in various city administrations since the 1980s.

Walsh said the goal of the review is to ensure that the ZBA serves applicants in a transparent manner and is held accountable to the public. Sullivan & Worcester LLP, an international law firm with offices in Boston, will conduct the review.

The Boston Globe reported on Sunday that the bribery scandal involved the extension of a permit for a South Boston condo project that is now “the focal point of a federal investigation.”

Lynch resigned from his former role as Assistant Director of Real Estate at the Economic Development Industrial Corporation (EDIC), a division of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) weeks earlier.

In exchange for Lynch’s admission to guilt, the government will recommend a “sentence within the range of 46 to 57 months’ imprisonment.”

In a statement issued on Thursday morning, Mayor Walsh said: "Boston is a city that is booming with economic development, from new companies moving to our city and the creation of housing being at an all-time high-record. The pace of our growth is unparalleled to any other time in our city's history. Through this review, I want to make sure that our agencies and staff are best equipped with the knowledge, tools and training they need to do their jobs effectively and to the standard of which they are held."