Carlo DeMaria, Jr. vs. Everett Leader Herald, Sergio Cornelio, Joshua Resnek, Matthew Philbin and Andrew Philbin, Sr.
It costs to be the boss
A court filing filed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria in Middlesex Court last week detailed how Matthew Philbin – who pays approximately 80% of the costs of the Everett Leader Herald out of his own personal pocket in order to keep what his former employee described as a “dead business” from going under – worked with his publisher, Josh Resnek, to collect thousands of dollars in cash from opponents of the Mayor to fund a political campaign to defeat DeMaria and elect his opponents in the summer of 2021.
According to a court document that is backed up by dozens of pages of deposition transcripts and copies of emails and a “strategy memo” sent by Resnek, Philbin – who bitterly disliked DeMaria and wanted to drive him out of office because the Mayor did not use taxpayers’ dollars to purchase insurance contracts through the Philbin Insurance Company and did not offer Philbin’s Everett business interests favorable treatment – approved a campaign to collect thousands of dollars in “cash infusion” from wealthy individuals who wanted DeMaria defeated. In the emails, Resnek boasted of picking up envelopes full of “C-Notes” from the back of a car, receiving thousands of dollars in cash from other sources and picking up “commitments” from wealthy individuals to pay the Leader Herald so that it could print over 10,000 copies of the Leader Herald filled with derogatory articles about the Mayor, and deliver them door to door to 8,000 Everett residences and 2,400 other locations each week for seven weeks in August and September 2021. That was just before the primary election for Mayor in Everett and would culminate in what Resnek told his boss would be an “atomic bomb” that Philbin and Resnek would “drop” on DeMaria and, hopefully (from their perspective), result in Mayor DeMaria’s defeat.
Time to worry
According to recent testimony from Philbin’s former Vice President for Operations, Elena Vega, excerpts of which were attached to the filing, the SOLE purpose of Philbin’s “newspaper” – which Vega testified was “not a real newspaper” – was driving DeMaria out of office. Every issue was filled with articles that made accusations of one kind or another about DeMaria. According to Vega, when she asked Philbin why he was keeping afloat a purported newspaper that was “dead” and which required Philbin to pay virtually all of the costs of keeping the paper alive out of his own pocket, including by handing her wads of cash, Philbin replied, “Don’t worry about it.” Philbin’s animus against DeMaria was so crude, Vega testified, that Philbin told her that he had hired a private investigator to “follow” the Mayor in hopes of gathering dirt on him that he could then publish.
Besides the various emails sent by Resnek bragging to a third party about all the cash he was collecting from interested parties to pay the Leader Herald to wage a political campaign against the Mayor, the court filing attaches a “strategy memo” sent by Resnek to Philbin on July 29, 2021, about seven weeks before the primary in which DeMaria was running against Fred Capone and Gerly Adrien, in which Resnek lays out what the strategy will be for using $5,000 from “Mr. A”, $5,000 from “Mr. B” and $6,000 from “Mr. C” to deliver Philbin’s and Resnek’s “messaging” against the Mayor to every home in Everett every week leading up to the election. According to the filing, Resnek admitted that Philbin had previously paid Resnek $10,000 to provide “public relations” services for an opponent of DeMaria. The court filing raised the issue of whether Philbin and Resnek had violated Massachusetts’s campaign finance laws.
Strategy for dummies
In the July 2021 “Strategy Memo” by Resnek in which he lays out his plan via email to Philbin, he states, “Just a few thoughts and scribbles about $$$$$,” describing his plan to blanket the city with his anti-DeMaria campaign. In what he labels “For Internal Use Only – Seven Weeks Until the Primary,” Resnek provides cost and estimates for 10,000 newspapers to be printed door to door and to stores and locations: $7,000 for delivery and $8,400 for printing for a total of $15,500. “Mr. A and Mr. B will pay $5,000; and Mr. C will pay $6,000 – Explanation – These three payments to us will pay almost entirely for all our printing and distribution costs for the 7 weeks. Whatever comes in from advertising will also add into our bottom line. For the next 7 weeks, you get a free ride from cash infusions. There will be more than several thousand for our use in addition. Then comes the ten weeks until the ELECTION in first week of November.”
Resnek continues: “STRATEGY – We should remain vigorous creating the news windows for Adrien and Capone. They will play into this. It makes messaging and campaigning easier for them and more beneficial. With our citywide circulation door to door their messaging more than anything else is crucial. Also crucial are the Carlo bits and pieces we have for publication. Our question is how to best maximize what we have before the September 21 Primary and when exactly to publish those bits and pieces. I would suggest we print all of what we have in an insert to the Leader Herald with big images of Adrien, Capone and DeMaria on the front cover like a Globe Magazine insert into the Sunday paper. This achieves several of our ambitions to look, feel and sound real to the people of the city receiving our publication on their door steps.
“An atomic attack on Wednesday, September 15, with an insert of say 8 tab pages including Globe articles, Proffer agreement and explanation, and Revere Police Report will be the guts of the insert. What I am proposing is to write a 3,000 – 5,000 word, ‘Looking at Carlo DeMaria’ as the backbone of the insert. A Resnek-style well written narrative of Carlo DeMaria’s life and times, and of his administration, as I see it through the eyes of a publisher who has his ear to the ground in this city. It will be a tell all. Unvarnished Carlo up close in real time. No effort will be spared to describe him as he is from first-hand experience (him threatening to put me out of business coming into the business place, swaggering just a bit, trying to exert his power and to be a bully at the same time … or telling about our first meeting face to face and me at Everett Stadium sensing rather strongly just by the empty and disinterested look in his eye that he didn’t like me, that we would never be friends, that this is a guy who has no friends. That’s the kind of piece I would write as the cover of the insert. One big blast seven days before the primary. He can’t and won’t answer it. It is wiser to do this than to release incrementally the information we have. One big blast: “Did you hear? Did you see? The Leader Herald?” is what the city that will come out to vote will be repeating over and over. “Did you read that police report about Carlo?” “Did you know what he’s done?”
Panic takes over
A recent court filing was in opposition to an “emergency motion” filed by Philbin’s lawyers the day after Vega testified two weeks ago, asking the court to order that all of his financial information be kept “confidential.” DeMaria’s lawyers argued that there was no basis to keep any of the testimony given by Vega confidential. They pointed out that she had no confidentiality agreement with Philbin, that she was free to testify truthfully about what she knew and that the evidence was relevant to Philbin’s financial control of the Leader Herald, which he personally keeps alive, and to the evidence of the apparent scheme, according to Resnek’s emails, to collect thousands of dollars of cash from unnamed opponents of Mayor DeMaria, apparently unreported as campaign contributions, to drive DeMaria out of office at all costs. This, DeMaria’s lawyers argued, was more evidence of Philbin’s “actual malice” to defame DeMaria by fabricating false accusations of wrongful conduct by DeMaria.
Resnek has already admitted under oath that he fabricated articles making all manner of accusations against the Mayor, that he had no basis for them and that he invented derogatory “quotes” from individuals about the Mayor which were actually never given. He has also admitted under oath that after he, Philbin and the paper were sued for defamation and received a demand for their notes of any interviews supporting the articles, Resnek manufactured the notes, then altered the manufactured notes, before passing them off as actual notes – and then lied about having actual notes in his deposition.
According to Vega, Philbin not only funded the Everett Leader Herald out of his own pocket because the advertising revenue generated by the “dead business” barely covered 20% of its costs, but he personally reviewed and approved each and every article that the paper published before it was published. This fact, DeMaria’s lawyers argued, is more evidence that Philbin is personally liable for defaming DeMaria. If a jury agrees, then Philbin will be personally responsible for any verdict in DeMaria’s favor that a jury reaches.
The court has not yet ruled on Philbin’s emergency motion to shield evidence regarding his financial information from public view as of press time.