The Latest: Boston official pleads not guilty to extortion

AP News
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Posted: May 19, 2016 4:39 PM

BOSTON (AP) — The Latest on the indictment of Boston's top tourism official (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Boston's top tourism official has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he withheld required city permits and approvals from a music festival production company that hired nonunion workers.

Kenneth Brissette entered his plea Thursday in federal court after being arrested on an extortion charge. After a brief hearing, a magistrate judge ordered him released on a $25,000 unsecured bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport and limit his travel to within the U.S. while the case is pending.

Prosecutors say that in 2014, Brissette pressured the production company to hire members of the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees. They claim that soon after the company hired eight laborers and a foreman, the city issued the needed permits.

In a statement released by his attorney, Brissette said he intends to fight what he called "false charges."

Brissette is due back in court July 12 for a status conference.

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1 p.m.

A Boston official charged with union-related extortion is calling the indictment against him "factually and legally flawed."

Federal prosecutors say Kenneth Brissette — Boston's top tourism official — withheld required city permits and approvals from a music festival production company that hired nonunion workers.

The 52-year-old Brissette was arrested Thursday morning. He's expected to make an initial appearance in federal court late Thursday afternoon.

In a statement released by his attorney, Brissette said he intends to fight what he called "false charges." He says he looks forward to ultimately being vindicated in court.

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9:30 a.m.

Boston's top tourism official has been arrested on what prosecutors described as union-related extortion charges.

Federal prosecutors say Kenneth Brissette, director of the Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment, was arrested Thursday. A federal indictment charges him with extorting a music festival production company.

Authorities say the company had contracted with a non-union company to provide workers for a September 2014 festival. They say Brissette forced them to hire members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees by withholding required permits and approvals. Prosecutors say when the company hired union workers, permits were issued.

The 52-year-old Brissette is scheduled to appear in court later Thursday.

It wasn't clear if he had a lawyer. A listing for a Kenneth Brissette in Boston had been disconnected.