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March 22, 2017

Chicopee mayor arrested on extortion charge

SPRINGFIELD ? Chicopee?s mayor was arrested Tuesday, a week before Election Day, after federal agents allegedly caught him on videotape taking $10,000 in cash from two business owners seeking favors from the city.

Richard Goyette, 36, a Republican running for a second term, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with extortion. He did not enter a plea and was released on personal recognizance following an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Springfield. A grand jury is now expected to hear the case.

?The alleged conduct of Mr. Goyette is an unconscionable breach of the public trust, and only serves to undermine citizens? confidence,? U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said at a news conference. ?Citizens rightfully expect public officials to uphold the best interests of all constituents without expecting cash contributions to do their job.?

An FBI affidavit unsealed Tuesday describes a pair of surveillance videos, both shot Sept. 2, that allegedly show Goyette accepting $5,000 cash contributions from two business owners who agreed to cooperate in the investigation.

One witness ? identified by investigators as ?Concerned Citizen II? ? is the owner of a towing company who said he gave Goyette the money to keep his contract with the city. The man said he made a $2,500 contribution to Goyette?s 2003 campaign in hopes of securing the contract, investigators said.

?It became clear that Goyette expected to receive substantial campaign contributions from towing companies that did business with the city of Chicopee,? FBI Special Agent Susan Kossler said in her sworn testimony.

On the video, according to affidavit, when the towing company owner takes the cash from his desk drawer, Goyette says, ?What, no envelope??

On the same day, Goyette went to the office of a Chicopee developer ? dubbed ?Concerned Citizen IV? ? and allegedly pocketed another $5,000 in exchange for a guarantee that problems with the man?s development project would be smoothed over. That exchange also was videotaped, the FBI said.

Several photographs were attached to the affidavit, including two purporting to show Goyette putting the cash in his pocket.

A woman who answered the phone at Goyette?s house declined to comment. Goyette?s brother-in-law, South Hadley Selectman James Lewis, told reporters at Sullivan?s news conference that he has ?the utmost confidence in Rick? and expects Goyette will be vindicated.

Goyette faces Democrat Michael D. Bissonnette in the Nov. 8 election.

Sullivan said the timing of the arrest had nothing to do with the fact that Goyette was up for re-election next week. ?The last thing we want to be accused of is influencing the political process,? he said.

A 1987 graduate of Chicopee High School, Goyette was elected in 2003 after serving six years as a city alderman, beating out former mayor Joseph Chessey to replace incumbent Richard Kos, who opted not to seek re-election.

Before getting into politics, Goyette managed motels. He?s married, with two children and five stepchildren.

Chicopee, a working-class city of 50,000, is about 90 miles west of Boston.

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