BOSTON (State House News Service) — A year after he was first arrested and charged with a slew of bank and wire fraud crimes, Lowell Democrat David Nangle pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to using campaign funds to pay for a golf club membership and to support his gambling habits.
Nangle, who served 22 years in the Legislature before losing his bid last year for a 12th term, also admitted to concealing debt from banks to obtain a home mortgage and three home equity lines of credit totaling $115,000 and to filing false tax returns for five years.
The plea was accepted Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel, and a sentencing hearing was set for June 24.
Nangle, 60, faces the potential of decades in prison and fines totaling millions of dollars, but federal prosecutors have not yet indicated how steep a sentence they will seek. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Chao noted that supervised released was a possibility on all 23 counts to which Nangle pleaded guilty.
As part of his plea, Nangle agreed to waive his right to appeal any sentence of 30 months or less in prison, and the government gave up its right to pursue obstruction of justice or extortion charges related to an alleged "stream of benefits" Nangle received from an unnamed associate who owns a Billerica company.
"You're not only buying a pig in a poke in the sentence, but you're giving up the right to complain about it," Zobel told Nangle, who agreed.
Throughout the morning's proceeding over Zoom, Nangle sat expressionless at a table next to his attorney Carmine Lepore, with three framed photographs of Rome's Colosseum on the wall behind them. He spoke only briefly to answer questions posed by the judge about whether he understood the rights he was giving up by entering a guilty plea and to admit to the crimes charged.
The government said that had Nangle's case gone to trial it was prepared to prove that Nangle defrauded his donors and his campaign committee by illegally using money to gamble, pay gold club dues and rent cars to drive to casinos in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Chao said the government would also call witnesses and present documents showing Nangle shielded debt from banks to obtain a home mortgage and home equity loans to pay for gambling trips, and that from 2014 through 2018 he filed false tax returns understating his income and and claiming charitable deductions for donations he never made.
By Matt Murphy, State House News Service
(Photo: Former State Rep. Nangle (middle) leaves court in Feb. 2020. Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)