Professed Church Director and ‘Enforcer’ Pleads Guilty to Racketeering and Bribery Related Charges
BOSTON—Edward J. MacKenzie, Jr., a self-professed “enforcer” for James “Whitey” Bulger, pleaded guilty today to charges relating to his decade-long scheme to siphon off the considerable financial assets of the Boston Society of the New Jerusalem Church.
MacKenzie, 56, of Weymouth, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 13 counts, including Rico conspiracy, racketeering, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
In September 2002, MacKenzie became a member of the Church, which was one of the first Swedenborgian churches in Massachusetts, and in 2003, he became the “Director of Operations,” a position that had not previously existed and paid him a starting salary of over $100,000 per year. With the purpose of draining the church of its assets, he began voting himself and his associates into positions of authority within the Church, and consolidating and fortifying his control by, among other things, changing the Church’s by-laws for his own benefit. MacKenzie was able to gain control over substantial church assets, including an 18 story apartment building in downtown Boston, because the Church had a small number of voting members, many of whom were elderly.
After obtaining control, MacKenzie began to steal Church funds through a combination of fraud, deceit, theft, and bribery. Moreover, MacKenzie intimidated and threatened individuals who were employed by and did work at the Church by, among other things, providing them with signed copies of his 2003 autobiography, Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob. In the autobiography, MacKenzie admitted to a lengthy criminal history, including burglary, robbery, armed assault, and narcotics trafficking.
As MacKenzie admitted in Court today, a goal of the conspiracy was to obtain power and influence within the Church so that he and his co-conspirators could defraud the Church of its considerable financial holdings and profit from transactions involving the Church. MacKenzie’s fraud cost the Church millions of dollars.
“The defendant preyed on the elderly and unsuspecting congregation of a well-established Boston church for more than a decade,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Posing as a director with the best interests of the church as a guise, he was in fact just the opposite: a criminal bent on personal gain who siphoned the considerable income of the charitable institution that he had an obligation to protect.”
The charging statutes provide a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of twice the gross proceeds from the racketeering offense. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz, Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary Hafer and Dustin Chao of Ortiz’s Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit.