A Canton man was among five Massport employees arrested Tuesday for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for preferential treatment to taxi cab drivers picking up passengers at Logan Airport. James Mulrey, 45, of Canton, and the four others are expected to be arraigned Wednesday in East Boston District Court.
The arrests followed a three-month investigation in which the employees received more than $1,000 in bribe money, according to the state police. They allegedly took $20 to $40 at a time, but may have also accepted lottery scratch tickets, cigarettes and "other goods," state police said.
"Working men and women shouldn't have to grease someone's palm just to make an honest living, but the defendants are accused of demanding just that," said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, according to a joint press release from his office as well as state police and Massport. "At the same time, the taxi drivers who allegedly paid them off enjoyed a tremendous financial advantage over drivers who played honestly and by the rules. It's not fair, and it won't be tolerated."
Taxi cab drivers at Logan are supposed to line up in rows until they get their turn to enter a terminal cab stand staffed by a ground transportation unit agent, also known as a starter. The starters arrested Tuesday are accused of allowing the drivers to skip the line in exchange for bribes. These drivers are known as jumpers.
"Some jumpers who spoke candidly with state police investigators estimated that they made about $350 per day following procedure, but could make as much as $600 per day by paying off starters," the press release states.
It continues, "Moreover, the starters would allegedly steer higher-priced fares, such as those heading beyond Rte. 128, to jumpers who bribed them more."
Update (Wednesday, Feb. 13 - 5:20 p.m.) Prosecutors requested $1,000 cash bail for the defendants at their arraignments in East Boston District Court on Wednesday, along with orders that they stay away from Logan Airport, stay away from any witnesses in the case, and surrender their passports, according to an updated announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Judge Kenneth Fiandaca released all five on personal recognizance but did impose the requested orders. The next date is April 2. Mulrey, of Canton, was represented by attorney Francisco Napolitano.