BOSTON (AP) — Former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi had an emotional homecoming Tuesday, five years after being sent to federal prison on public corruption charges.
DiMasi, 71, arrived at Boston's Logan airport Tuesday after being released from a prison in North Carolina, looking significantly thinner from health problems he battled while he was incarcerated.
"I just love being back in Boston," DiMasi told reporters, as his wife, Debbie, and two grown children rubbed his shoulders while he sat in a wheelchair.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf granted a request for compassionate release for DiMasi, who was treated for both throat and prostate cancer while in prison. His lawyers said he has lost 70 pounds.
The once-powerful Democrat was convicted in 2011 of steering state contracts to a software firm in exchange for $65,000 funneled through his private law firm. He served five years of an 8-year sentence.
DiMasi said he is grateful to his friends and family, especially his wife, who lobbied for his early release.
"It's a very emotional day for me," DiMasi said. "It's been a trying and difficult experience."
DiMasi said he is looking forward to regaining his health and being treated by his own doctors. His lawyers have said his cancer is in remission now, but his treatments caused a narrowing of his esophagus that creates a risk of choking and requires him to be on a pureed diet.
"I'm a fighter, so I had to fight this all the way," he said.
DiMasi said he is looking forward to "a very special Thanksgiving" at home with his family.