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The Blue Suit unravels: Leader Herald owner called the shots at press deadline

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By James Mitchell

 

In a continuation of a deposition by Everett Leader Herald newspaper owner Matthew Philbin on Oct. 13, 2023 – in the ongoing defamation lawsuit against him, the newspaper, his father Andrew Philbin, Sr., reporter Joshua Resnek and Sergio Cornelio – Philbin was presented exhibits in which he and, on many occasions, James Mahoney, his former newspaper layout person, received emails that showed drafts of Resnek’s Blue Suit columns, which he claimed were satirical. They described the mayor committing various criminal acts. The majority of the drafts were sent each and every week – the day before the newspaper edition went to press for that week.

One of the most inflammatory articles published by the Leader Herald describes the Blue Suit having a conversation with the corrupt reporter/publisher – stemming from a draft of an article in a March 31, 2020, email – which made claims that Carlo DeMaria, while working at his donut shop, was involved in a scenario where a knife was held to a female employee’s throat and that the police were called and a complaint was filed and reported by the Revere Police. When asked by the mayor’s attorney, Jeffrey Robbins, if Resnek ever presented any evidence that a knife was held to anyone’s throat; or read a police report in connection with the article, or if any charges were filed due to the police report against the mayor, Philbin replied that he didn’t ask Resnek if he had any evidence nor requested Resnek to prove an ounce of truthfulness of the article. Philbin was asked if he was ever aware that the person who filed the complaint against the mayor that was reflected in the police report was thrown out of court due to lack of probable cause; Philbin replied, “No.”

“Did you make any effort whatsoever to ascertain the facts about the complaint that was filed by the person in the police report?”

“No. I left that up to Josh Resnek,” replied Philbin.

“Did you ever seek to verify whether or not this woman had ever claimed that Mr. DeMaria had held a sharp object to her throat?” asked the attorney.

“No. I’m not a researcher. I’m not a reporter. No. I did not,” stated Philbin.

“You own the newspaper, right?” asked Robbins.

“I do own the newspaper, yes,” he answered.

Robbins asked Philbin if there was anything in the article that should be considered fiction or satire; Philbin said that it was a blue suit talking to Resnek. When asked why there wasn’t a disclaimer stating that the article was fictitious, Philbin stated that it was about a blue suit. When asked why there were disclaimers on other Blue Suit articles claiming that the articles were “not reality,” the witness was asked if there was a disclaimer on that particular article; Philbin said there wasn’t. “Do you see any reference to that, anything like that in this article?” asked Atty. Robbins.

“No. Not in this one. I don’t,” said Philbin. “No.”

In another email exhibit between Philbin and Resnek, Philbin is then provided with two copies of the same draft articles – one dated May 12, 2020, the other dated May 13, 2020 – in which Resnek writes, “…in the master bedroom’s en suite bathroom, (all polished marble and stainless steel donated to his cause by folks wishing to do business with the city) he usually shaves.”

The attorney asked Philbin if Resnek has ever provided evidence or did he (Philbin) take any steps to verify that the mayor had accepted any goods or services from anybody. Philbin said he did not. Asked if there was any language of a disclaimer stating that the article was fiction or satire, Philbin said he did not see one.

Renek’s Blue Suit columns – despite almost never providing a disclaimer that the banter and scenarios between Resnek and a fictional Blue Suit, which he claimed was worn by Mayor Carlo DeMaria, were fictional and meant as satire – almost always mirrored the majority of Resnek’s page one articles describing scandals and crimes being committed by the mayor, particularly in 2021 leading up to the elections. Resnek would brag to many of his friends in emails on how his stories were destroying the mayor and his reelection chances.

Philbin, gifted the newspaper following its purchase by his father and fellow defendant Andrew Philbin, Sr., owner of Philbin Insurance, which was recently sold to Salem Five Savings Bank, hired Resnek, a former partner of the Independent Newspaper Group, which publishes the Everett Independent and Revere Journal newspapers. Resnek was shown the door when the group parted ways with him after it was discovered by the majority owner, publisher Steven Quigley, that Resnek had taken money from a vendor of the City of Boston. Resnek would also be fired from a well-respected Boston public relations firm as well as a Jewish newspaper.

During the deposition, Philbin was shown another exhibit of an Oct. 6, 2020, email, including to the newspaper’s layout person, James Mahoney, of a Blue Suit column that claims the mayor was always taking bribes in form of money and casino chips thanks to the Encore Casino development. Atty. Robbins showed Philbin the draft of the column where Resnek writes that the mayor is involved in, among other things, secret deals. When asked by his Blue Suit character how he knows of any deals, Resnek, answering the Blue Suit, states that he’s written a book about the casino land deal, co-written by Forbes Magazine investigative journalist Walter Pavlo, and boasts of having a publisher.

Resnek has previously testified in his deposition that he had a manuscript but failed to find a publisher, and promised Philbin that he would split the profits if he was able to promote it in the newspaper. Philbin denied knowing of Resnek’s “deal” to split the sale of the book profits.

In the draft presented to Philbin, Resnek wrote that the mayor received a “bouquet” of cash for doing favors and that the FBI agent Elio was allowing the mayor to “run around without being touched by the law.” Resnek also implied that the mayor received a commission for the sale of the land to Encore.

“Did you make any effort to verify any of the information contained in this draft?” asked the attorney.

“No. I had no reason not to believe it. He said he was the investigative reporter. He’s in charge of these articles and columns…40 years of him doing this, I thought that he would have evidence and do it right. Yeah,” answered Philbin.

“Did he ever show you any of the evidence?” asked Robbins.

“No,” he replied.

Philbin stated that Resnek never provided any evidence that the mayor had committed any of the things that was written in his article.

Philbin would be provided with emails of drafts of articles he received from Resnek the day before the weekly editions were sent to press, proving that Philbin was the final word before every edition went to press.

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