Opinion

No Get Out of Jail Free Card for Albano

By most accounts, Springfield is starting to rebound.

The Finance Control Board has stabilized the city’s finances and brought about relative peace and harmony to the labor front. The Urban Land Institute study of the city has established some priority areas for the community, and there is already movement on some of these fronts. We’ve seen momentum in the business community and the commercial real estate market, and the promise of more activity and jobs.

As the new year dawns, many in the community would like to add to this list by putting the scandals that have rocked Springfield in the rear-view mirror. Some have suggested that the FBI, which has successfully ferreted out wrongdoing on the part of many city officials, including most members of the Asselin family, should consider its work here done.

Not yet.

The FBI shouldn’t close the book on Springfield until its work is finished, and that won’t be accomplished until former Mayor Michael Albano, who was ringmaster for the circus that his administration became, is made to account for his many misdeeds.

While several members of his administration have been indicted, tried, found guilty, and incarcerated, Albano has thus far escaped the same fate. Maybe there’s nothing the Feds can pin on him, but we suspect that there may be other reasons for the FBI’s reluctance to act on the former mayor.

Albano has suggested to many that the FBI’s crackdown, similar in some ways to the well-documented Operation Plunderdome that took down Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, is part and parcel to “being an Italian American” who assumes a leadership position in this country. This is nonsense.

Albano’s assertions are offensive to all Americans, especially to those of Italian descent, and are being compounded by Albano’s opining that the FBI’s interest in Springfield and his administration is motivated by actions he took 24 years ago.

Albano, a former member of the state Parole Board, recently testified in a U.S. Civil Court trial that the FBI never provided him with information that three men convicted of murder were innocent. The testimony came in a trial in which two men and the families of two deceased men are suing the government for than $100 million for wrongly putting them in prison.

The two living individuals, who were freed after 25 years in prison, were exonerated after documents were released indicating that the FBI knew the men were innocent but set them up to protect an informant who committed the murder of a mob member.

Outside the courtroom, Albano told reporters that when the Parole Board was considering whether to commute the sentence of one of those convicted, he was told by two FBI agents that voting for the commutation — which he eventually did — would not be a good career move for him.

It appears that Albano is trying to use these events, and his ancestry, to suggest that the FBI has no good reason for being in Springfield and turning City Hall, the Housing Authority, the Mass. Career Development Institute, and other once-corrupt agencies upside down looking for wrongdoing.

The truth is that the FBI has every reason to be here, as evidenced by the convictions already won, and it should stay here until its job is finished. More importantly, it should not be intimidated by Albano’s posturing about being bullied by the bureau two decades ago.

Former members of the Albano administration have hinted privately that the best defense against the FBI is a good offense. The former mayor has been saying for years that the bureau has an ax to grind and that this explains why the Feds have set up camp in Springfield.

The truth is that the mayor presided over a City Hall that was corrupt, out of control, and an embarrassment to the community. And that’s why we believe the FBI’s work, as damaging as it has been the city’s reputation, must continue until all the questions are answered. Then, it will be appropriate to move on.

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