Wednesday, September 14, 2005

GOP Official in Mass. Faces Charges

GOP Official in Mass. Faces Charges

Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- A lawyer who is vice chairman of the state Republican Party was charged Tuesday with money-laundering for allegedly offering to "cleanse" drug proceeds for a client.

Lawrence Novak was arrested at his home in Brockton after investigators said he allegedly offered to launder drug profits for a man who is awaiting trial on federal trafficking charges and who has agreed to be a cooperating witness against Novak.

Novak, 54, was taken into custody after he deposited money in a Brockton bank, federal authorities said.

GOP Gov. Mitt Romney called for Novak to step down while the investigation continues.

Republican Party Executive Director Tim O'Brien said the charges are unrelated to Novak's GOP role. Novak served at the party's treasurer in the late 1990s.

Novak made an initial appearance in federal court late Tuesday and was released on $25,000 bond. Neither he nor his attorney would comment on the charges.

Novak allegedly offered to have the drug defendant, Scott Holyoke, sign false affidavits in an attempt to invalidate some of his prior state convictions in order to reduce the sentence he would face in his federal case.

Holyoke told Novak that he had over $100,000 in cash in a safe deposit box, repeatedly telling Novak that the money was drug proceeds, according to an affidavit filed by Lauren Youngquist, a special agent with the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service.

The affidavit said Novak told Holyoke that he would take approximately $60,000 of the money as a legal fee and offered to "clean" or "cleanse" the remainder of the cash.

Novak is due back in court Oct. 3. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.


Associated Press Writer Steve LeBlanc contributed to this report.