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An unexpected twist: Defendant Sergio Cornelio and attorney part ways – Cornelio’s attorney files motion to withdraw as counsel due to lack of payment and communication

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By James Mitchell


  In a surprising twist in the ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Sergio Cornelio, a defendant and counterclaim plaintiff, has apparently dropped his legal counsel in the middle of the ongoing lawsuit, according to an affidavit filed in Middlesex Superior Court by John F. Tocci, Esq., a partner at the firm of Tocci & Lee, LLC. Tocci has been Cornelio’s lead counsel dating back to 2022, including Cornelio’s turbulent appearance before the city council for his reappointment as city clerk for the City of Everett.

According to the affidavit, Cornelio’s attorney has stated that over the course of the last 18 months, Cornelio and his counsel have “consistently and frequently communicated regarding issues relating to this litigation, other litigation and legal matters relating to his employment with the City of Everett and his dispute with Mayor Carlo DeMaria and others.”

But according to the attorney, Cornelio has broken off communication and payment of legal fees.

“It has become apparent to me that the attorney-client relationship has broken down,” stated Tocci, in the affidavit. “I do not feel that my client and I can effectively communicate regarding the course of this litigation.”

The affadavit continued, stating that Cornelio has indicated to him that he “will not pay legal fees for services rendered to date or to be rendered in the future.” Tocci added that his firm cannot continue representing Cornelio under “these difficult circumstances” and without remuneration of services, including unreimbursed expenses that will present both “an unreasonable emotional burden on myself and the other attorneys involved and an unreasonable financial burden on the firm.”

Atty. Tocci added that since his firm has provided reasonable notice to Cornelio’s failure to abide by his obligations that the firm should be allowed to withdraw as his legal representation.

“Cornelio has not acted on these notices, and has indicated that he intends to retain new counsel,” stated the affidavit.

Since his reappointment by the city council in July 2022, Cornelio, along with Philbin and Resnek, have been facing serious legal action filed by the mayor over allegations made by Resnek in a series of stories and editorials leading up the 2021 election, where Resnek published articles claiming Cornelio accused the mayor of extortion in an Everett real estate deal. Resnek later admitted to fabricating lies and making up quotes attributed to Cornelio in the multiple stories.

Cornelio, who brought Atty. Tocci to the city council meetings in July 2022 while under serious scrutiny by some city council members who cited Cornelio’s attempts to obtain paternity leave through the state legislature and the city council, but was stopped during both attempts. In a March council Ways & Means subcommittee meeting, one city councillor questioned Cornelio’s $70,000 vacation payout.

Prior to his appointment as city clerk, Cornelio was working as a delivery driver for a local sandwich shop and had also served one term as city councillor.

Many political insiders found it strange that he brought an attorney to his city clerk reappointment meeting with the city council – as if he were a defendant.

But given his lifelong family background in the city, it carried him through to be reappointed to another term.

But his relationship with the corrupt reporter, Joshua Resnek and Leader-Herald owner Matthew Philbin, both codefendants in the mayor’s defamation lawsuit, cast a shadow on his reputation.

Cornelio had participated in two depositions, denying that he made any accusations against the mayor pertaining to their mutual real estate deal and that Resnek told him that he was going to write the story without his approval.

Cornelio also admitted in his sworn testimony to meeting with Philbin and a former Boston Globe reporter Andrea Estes, along with his parents, at a restaurant during the election year after Resnek wrote and published his stories about the real estate deal.

Possible new legal representation has been speculated for Cornelio. One possibility is Atty. Joseph Marchese, brother of city councillor Michael Marchese, who sold his 85 Elsie St. home to Cornelio’s wife, a Somerville police detective – in the summer of 2021 – during the contentious election year.

Cornelio admitted during his deposition that he did not disclose to the state Ethics Commission, as Chairman of the City of Everett’s Election Commission and City Clerk, that he purchased a home from a city councillor who was also a candidate for reelection.

Cornelio also admitted in his deposition that about the time Michael Marchese approached him about buying his property – he was recommended by Marchese to talk to his attorney brother about his Corey St. real estate deal with the mayor.

It was in September 2021 – just a month or two after his wife purchased Marchese’s property and meeting with his attorney brother when the inflammatory stories about the mayor started appearing in the Everett Leader-Herald. Cornelio admitted that Michael Marchese approached him about speaking to his brother if he wanted to take legal action against the mayor.

In the Leader-Herald articles, Resnek wrote that Cornelio told him that the mayor had extorted him of $96,000 for the sale of property located on Corey St., and that DeMaria never had any participation in the sale or ownership of the property.

Through sworn testimony from multiple depositions with Resnek, it was discovered that the mayor was a legitimate partner in the land deal with Cornelio and that all the accusations and quotations attributed to Cornelio were fabricated and facts about the land deal were admitted by Resnek to be false.

The Marchese brothers, once fervent supporters of the mayor, have been openly critical of DeMaria for not supporting Joseph Marchese’s business ventures in the city and may have been upset with the mayor after police raided in 2003, McDonald’s Café on Ferry St., which is owned by Michael Marchese, who was then an alderman, following multiple arrests for drug dealing, arresting eight suspects. The bar was ordered closed by the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. The brothers also supported his political opponents including Frederick Capone who lost to the mayor in the last election. or city council candidates such as Geurline Alcy, with political advertisements in the Everett Leader-Herald. The older Marchese, Joseph, has been alleged to mail anonymous letters throughout the city for many years defaming the mayor and his administration.

Cornelio did not respond to an email seeking comment by press time.

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