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Keough in Hot Water Again

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

In 2007, disgraced former Springfield City Councilor Frankie Keough was sentenced to three years in federal prison for stealing from Friends of the Homeless, the city shelter he ran. In an apology offered before the court, Keough “expressed a mix of anguish and self-contempt,” in the words of Springfield Republican reporter Jack Flynn.

“I’ve asked myself how I arrived at a place like this,” Keough told the court. “Quite frankly, I don’t have an answer.”

Last week, Keough—who’s already out of prison, having served some of his time before his sentencing—once again found himself behind bars, and once again, there are questions about how he got there.

Early last Friday morning, Keough was arrested in Charleston, R.I., for allegedly stealing a dinette set from the beach house he used to own there. As part of his corruption case, Keough had admitted to having shelter residents and on-the-clock employees work on the $700,000 house, and to stealing furniture and other items from the shelter for the house. He also pleaded guilty to extortion, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

Keough’s conviction was part of the large-scale federal corruption probe that snared several members of the Albano administration, including Gerry Phillips, a former police commissioner and School Committee member who ran the Mass. Career Development Institute; Albano’s chief of staff, Anthony Ardolino; and Ardolino’s brother, Chester, a city cop. The feds also convicted several members of the Asselin family, including former state Rep. Chris Asselin and his father, Ray, long-time head of the Springfield Housing Authority, for stealing from that agency; another Asselin son, Jimmy, was also convicted of stealing from a government small-business loan program he ran.

Under an earlier agreement, Keough was to be allowed to keep his beach house if he paid restitution for his crimes. When he failed to do so, the government seized the house, which was auctioned off earlier this month.

Last week, Keough was caught by local police loading tables and chairs into a truck outside the house, according to a Republican article by Patrick Johnson. A second man, who was helping Keough, ran off when the police arrived; Keough told the cops he was a passing stranger who had offered his help.

Keough’s attorney, former Springfield City Councilor Danny Kelly, told the Republican it was all “a big misunderstanding.” Keough was just retrieving his rightful property, Kelly said, and had been led to believe by conversations with U.S. marshals that he could come get it any time.

If Keough was taking the furniture with the marshals’ OK, why would he would need to break into the house to get it? “It may be that his method of retrieval was not appropriate,” Kelly said.

That’s not all that seems inappropriate about Keough’s recent Rhode Island adventure. After his release from prison last year, he was sentenced to three years’ probation, which included a condition that he not leave Massachusetts without notifying his probation officer, Johnson reported.

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