Bet on It: Beverly Gallagher Went Undercover for the Feds
Josephus Eggelletion: Surprised at his home at 7:30 a.m. by federal agents who arrest him and take him away.
Fitzroy Salesman: Busted by masked feds when he was still in bed.
Beverly Gallagher: Allowed to enjoy a breakfast with her family and self-surrender in her own good time.
Why the special treatment for Gallagher? Did agents just like Gallagher more than they did Salesman and Eggelletion? Or did they have a special reason for extending her this kindness?
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Did Gallagher, for instance, do some work for the feds before yesterday's big announcement? I'm hearing that she did, and there's a lot of evidence to back it up.
Just look at the lead-up to the arrests. While yesterday's takedown was obviously a surprise to Eggelletion and Salesman, she was basically preparing for it. Gallagher announced that she was taking a leave of absence for medical reasons, failed to file her financial disclosure (i.e., she knew she had nothing to gain by it because the feds already had her), hired an attorney, and even moved her stuff out of her home. She began missing School Board meetings and workshops several weeks ago, another sign that she knew trouble was upon her long before she was politely asked to turn herself in.
Then look at the timeline. The federal complaint regarding Gallagher indicates that the last time she accepted bribe money from the undercover agents was on June 3. The complaint, which had been full of interesting details, just stops. That's the last date of importance in the entire case against all three politicians.
So what happened between June 3 and yesterday? What's with the three-and-a-half-month lag time? Well, maybe Gallagher was setting up meetings, wearing a
wire, and trying to rack up some points for the feds. The FBI had her dead to rights, after all, and she had to know it. Why not do some work and shave off some of those prison months?
Now, if you think that Gallagher is some sort of a tough customer who'll tell the feds to shove it and stoically do her time, you're dead wrong. I know this. Back before the feds targeted Gallagher, I wrote a story about her job with Community Blood Centers that she obtained with the help of her lobbyist friend, Neil Sterling. I interviewed her about the job, and the title of the column, "A Politician Weeps," gives you a clue as to how our talk went.
She broke down crying during the interview, as I pointed out to her that her numerous votes for Sterling's clients -- like Pirtle Construction, which plays a prominent role in the current case against her -- seemed to add up to a crime of corruption. Here's an excerpt from the story:
"I will quit my job and get another job then," she said through her tears. "But how am I going to pay my mortgage this month? How am I going to put my kids through college? And how will I get another job? If I ask my other friends, like George Platt... I can't do that either?"
Platt is another major lobbyist at the school board. I told her that wasn't a good idea.
"Then, Bob, I ask you, where can I find a job?" she asked through tears. "When people try to find a job, they network to find a job and they talk to people they know. That's the only way I know to get jobs."
She said she took the job only because she needed the money to help send her kids through college after her husband divorced her. And it went on. Before it was over, I was consoling her, which isn't generally what I do when it comes to corrupt politicians I am writing about.
If she broke down while being questioned by a reporter, can you imagine what she'd do in FBI headquarters with agents telling her they have her dead to rights and she's looking at ten years or more? Open up the floodgates.
The real questions: Was Gallagher effective once she was turned loose by the feds? Did she bring anybody else down with her? And what kind of deal has she managed to wrangle from the government?
I hope to get the answers soon.
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