Judge: Defendants must turn over all unredacted correspondence to mayor
This past week it was learned that defendants the Everett Leader Herald newspaper, Matthew Philbin and Andrew Philbin, Sr., and reporter Joshua Resnek must turn over within 20 days all unredacted emails, texts and phone records which may have been withheld related to the current lawsuit filed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Jr. This would also include the identities of all purported sources, according to the judgment by Middlesex Superior Court Judge James Budreau granting DeMaria’s motion to compel supplemental discovery responses dated June 30, 2022.
In the continued depositions for Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s defamation lawsuit against the Everett Leader Heraldnewspaper, Matthew Philbin and Andrew Philbin, Sr., reporter Joshua Resnek, and Sergio Cornelio on June 23, at the Boston law offices of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, Resnek continued his stunning admission of yellow journalism. He admitted to attorneys for DeMaria that his stories published on Sept. 8 and 15, 2021 – written just weeks before the primary election – contained lies and fabrications that falsely claimed the mayor strong-armed City Clerk Sergio Cornelio in their legitimate commercial property land deal on Corey Street in Everett.
Attorney Jeffery Robbins commanded answers from the dodgy Resnek regarding his emails to Boston Globereporter Andrea Estes about information written in his articles based on information Resnek claimed he obtained from Leader Herald owner Matthew Philbin. In just one example of Resnek’s attempt to goad The Globe reporter into writing articles about the mayor, Resnek was asked if he had any notes of any kind that proved the mayor threatened to withdraw city money from the Everett Co-operative Bank if he didn’t get a mortgage. Resnek admitted that he didn’t – his information was based on only what he was told by Philbin. When Estes asks Resnek how the mayor could justify having money in an account that pays no interest, Resnek stated, “It’s all speculation. I didn’t know whether or not there was a phony LLC.” Yet, Resnek wrote his articles accusing DeMaria of just that.
Resnek had stated in his articles that Cornelio told him that the mayor strong-armed his way into the Corey Street property deal and the mayor filed a phony LLC in order to collect on the deal – just one of many false allegations Resnek claimed in his articles in 2021. Resnek stated to the attorneys that all documents with respect to the land deal were, according to his testimony, witnessed by Philbin and related to him as information to use in his Sept. 2021 articles. Resnek admitted he never saw any documents, including a lawyer’s note related to the deal, and that he knew there was a legitimate LLC between Cornelio and DeMaria listed with the Mass. Secretary of State’s office, despite not having the names of the owners, portrayed it as illegitimate, as if information was being purposely hidden.
But Resnek admitted that he also never listed his name as owner of Chelsea Press, LLC, a company which he uses to collect his paycheck for his work for the Everett Leader Herald, as well as never listing Matthew Philbin as owner of Dorchester Publications, LLC, which publishes the newspaper.
“In your articles in Sept. 2021, you inform your readers that it was very typical, quite common for LLC documents to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office without identifying the owners?” asked Robbins.
“No, I didn’t,” replied Resnek,
When asked about his motivation to send emails to Estes which stated that he (Resnek) could not say with any certainty if the mayor threatened Everett Co-operative Bank President Richard O’Neil and his brother, Atty. David O’Neil, who represented DeMaria and Cornelio in their land deal, to “do his bidding” with respect to the property deal, Resnek stated he did because the bank’s ad was pulled from the newspaper, calling it “cause and effect.” “Mr. Resnek, have you given us just now your basis for believing that Mr. DeMaria threatened the O’Neils? Have you just told us everything?” asked Robbins.
“That’s about all I have to say, yeah,” replied Resnek.
“Did you have any evidence that Mr. DeMaria had threatened the O’Neils in any way relating to Corey Street?”
Resnek answered, “No.”
Robbins then asked Resnek about the Philbin family, who had taken ownership of the Everett Leader Herald in 2017 following the passing of Joseph Curnane, Jr., purchasing the Church Street office property and the newspaper for reportedly $750,000. The attorney asked about the newspaper’s finances after Resnek became publisher in 2017. Resnek claimed it made $330,000 that year – to $200,000 by 2021 – described by Resnek as “bleeding” funds year after year.
Resnek also claimed that the Philbins weren’t happy with the mayor for losing the city’s insurance business after DeMaria was first elected mayor. Resnek also stated that Matthew and Andrew Philbin, Sr. were upset that the Everett Co-operative Bank had pulled their $350 a week ad from their newspaper, believing it was at the behest of the mayor. Resnek claimed to have “anecdotal evidence” but admitted to not having any actual evidence.
Robbins asked Resnek if he urged The Boston Globe reporter to urge Cornelio to make statements to her as well as urge others to make statements to him. Resnek replied that he did. The attorney delved further into the emails with Estes, asking Resnek about the email where Resnek describes the scenario where Estes should call DeMaria, Cornelio and the O’Neil brothers, and said that she should not expect them to reveal their pocket LLC to protect the mayor’s $96,000 “unless you provoke them that they met privately” – “at least three times before Cornelio gave up and signed over the $96,000 to the mayor.” Resnek claimed that evidence came from Cornelio’s statements; that it’s only what he told him and that he didn’t have any notes to back it up.
“And in fact – Mr. Cornelio never told you, Joshua Resnek, that the mayor ever pressured him into giving money to him, correct?” asked Atty. Jeffrey Robbins.
“Correct,” replied Resnek.
Estes, in the same email, tells Resnek that Cornelio was expected to call her later, but her editors wanted her to get the story published before the primary, asking Resnek, “Do you think Carlo will win?”
Robbins asked him if his plan was to have The Globe reporter write a story about the mayor before the primary in which DeMaria was seeking reelection; Resnek stated that it would have been an “optimum situation,” adding, “Yes.”
When asked if he had any formal training in journalism or was familiar with any guidelines for ethical journalism, Resnek replied he wasn’t and had not received any formal training but was mentored by Andrew Quigley, Sr., father of his former partner, Steven Quigley of the Everett Independent. Robbins asked Resnek if he agreed that it was dishonest to fabricate quotes or to publish as fact something which is actually speculation. Resnek agreed despite admitting to having no evidence, proof or notes to justify his articles from Sept. 8 and 15, 2021.
When questioning focused on a story Resnek wrote in March 2022 titled “Irish Humiliated in Racist E-mail and Text Threads Shared by Mayor, Others,” Resnek’s Attorney, Bernie Guekguezian, instructed Resnek not to answer any questions related to anything after Sept. 2021, until it was decided by the judge. Robbins continued to ask Resnek about the story, quoting passages with derogatory statements, and then asking Resnek if he fabricated any parts of the story. Resnek refused to answer on the advice of counsel.
When the questions moved to Philbin’s financials and real estate holdings in Everett, particularly the rooming houses and multifamily units, Resnek was asked if the Philbins had sought favorable treatment from the City of Everett on various occasions in the past; Resnek replied in the affirmative. Resnek also agreed that the Philbins stopped receiving favorable treatment once DeMaria was elected mayor and the Philbins weren’t very happy about it.
Robbins then asked if it was wrong to ascribe statements to the wrong person and to knowingly tell readers that person X has said something when person X had not said that, and that it would be false; Resnek agreed. “That would be reckless journalism, correct?” asked Robbins. “Not necessarily,” replied Resnek.
“If you knew the mayor hasn’t said something and you tell readers that it’s the mayor that said something, that would be reckless, right?” asked Robbins. “Yes,” replied Resnek.
Resuming after lunch, Robbins asked Resnek if owner Matthew Philbin was a journalist or had any background in journalism. Resnek stated that other than owning the newspaper, Philbin did not. Resnek admitted that he had never seen any notes by Philbin of any conversations that Philbin claims he had with Cornelio for Resnek stories. When asked if the newspaper had any policies in place with respect to reporting, Resnek stated he did, and that was to “always tell the truth or as close to the truth as we feel it can be.”
In a paltry attempt to justify his articles, Resnek was questioned on his journalistic ethics. When asked if he believed it was wrong to mislead readers, misquote or present as fact information which is speculation, Resnek replied that it was. “You will admit that it would be reckless to disregard those fundamental journalistic principals, correct?” asked Robbins.
“Without meaning any disrespect, it depends on who you’re writing about,” stated Resnek.
When asked by Robbins if he thought it was okay to falsify information about certain people, Resnek, despite objection from counsel, stated that if the person was heinous and his actions are detrimental to our freedom and free speech and a wide variety of things…someone needs to stand up. But when asked if it was okay to falsify information about certain people, Resnek replied that it was not. “And would it be dishonest of your newspaper to falsify information about Mr. DeMaria, correct?” Resnek replied, “Yes.”
Robbins questioned Resnek on Matthew Philbin’s dislike for the mayor, asking him if he believed Philbin felt that the mayor was unfavorable to his business interests. Resnek agreed. “And you understood that when you were publishing these articles about the mayor, correct?” asked Robbins.
“I understood that long before,” he replied, including admitting to Philbin’s personal animosity towards the mayor.
The focus then centered on Resnek’s Sept. 11, 2019, article “Eye on Everett” where Resnek writes asking the then U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, to “take a closer look at the obvious, Kickback Carlo in his tenth year of organized, obscene, uniquely disguised municipal threat and greed.” Robbins points out and Resnek admits to calling the mayor “Kickback Carlo” 11 times in the article – again in a December 2019 article approximately 20 times – despite admitting that he had no evidence that the mayor had ever taken a kickback.
Instead, Resnek claimed to have heard it from a person named Gary DiCicco, a real estate developer Resnek claimed owned the land purchased by Wynn for the casino license. When asked by Robbins if DiCicco provided any proof, Resnek replied, “He just alluded to it very strongly.” “Was there proof?” asked Robbins. “I can’t provide you with any proof,” replied Resnek.
Resnek claimed he read an FBI report, a lawsuit, yet did not attend any trial or read any documents that claimed the mayor had taken kickbacks – which he stated in his articles on multiple occasions leading up to the elections. As in the majority of his articles written about the mayor, Resnek admitted to having no notes of any kind to back up any of the allegations written in his articles.
Resnek was then asked about his claim he made at the end of his article promising the readers of a “fellow I know well has promised to tell in the near future – a bad development for Kickback Carlo.” When asked to reveal the “fellow,” Resnek stated it would be DiCicco, but, three years later, DiCicco failed to show. Resnek then admitted he made no preparations before he wrote the article, including making notes or documentary evidence which provided information that would support his allegation.
Again the questioning turned to the “Blue Suit” columns; Resnek, in previous testimony, established that the Blue Suit was fictional, but was also a “conversation” between him and the suit. In a July 1, 2021, column leading up to the elections, Resnek would again promise the readers that “before Sept. 7, everything dark and ugly about Carlo’s background is going to come out.” Resnek admitted he did make that promise but stated his “timing was way off.” Sticking to his ending narratives of his Blue Suit columns, the “journalist” fell short of his goal.
Robbins then asked Resnek about his notebook, a leather-bound BU notebook his daughter gave him which he carried on August 25, 2021, the day he went to the City Clerk’s Office to deliver his newspapers.
When asked about his routine prior to sending his stories to print, Resnek was asked if he called up anyone to verify his quotes, such as Cornelio, of which his Sept. 8 story was about. Resnek said Mr. Philbin despite Philbin not being quoted in the article. Resnek said that Mr. Philbin is the Leader Herald and the Leader Herald is quoted in the article. When asked if he called up anyone who was quoted in the articles to ask them if they were quoted correctly, Resnek replied he did not.
Resnek is then questioned on the notes he had taken regarding the Corey Street property deal and exactly where in the notebook they were written. After reading small missives in quotations such as “sexual harassment”, “Big issue”, and “Mayor extorts 96,000 from Cornelio – promises to ruin Cornelio, mother”, Resnek is asked if these notes were related to any conversation and with who.
“I believe they were from Mark Puleo,” said Resnek. “He’s one of our sources.”
Resnek stated that Puleo works for a national polling company – “and that he’s big into issues.” Resnek went on to say that Puleo told him that Sergio had been coerced and that there were councillors planning to throw him out of office and that the mayor had taken away some of his money that goes with the City Clerk’s Office. Resnek also claimed that Puleo said that Sergio was anxiety-ridden and that Cory Street was an issue and that the mayor had demanded $96,000.
When Resnek was asked what personal knowledge Puleo had of the circumstances of Corey Street, Resnek replied, “He’s married to a school committee member.”
Resnek was asked again if Puleo had any personal knowledge of the Corey Street transaction; Resnek replied, “He told it to me that way.” Resnek then attempted to dance his way around the question, claiming Puleo’s standing in the community, as well as redefining journalistic standards that apply to only Everett.
“Now, did Mr. Puleo tell you that he had seen any of the documentation relating to Corey Street?” asked Robbins.
“No,” said Resnek.
“Did he tell you that he was present during any conversation between Mr. Cornelio and Mr. DeMaria?” asked Robbins. “No,” replied Resnek.
Resnek said he wasn’t shown any notes of any conversations except what Puleo had said he heard from Cornelio.
“Is there anything in your notes that reflect that Mr. Puleo had ever spoken to Cornelio?” asked the attorney. “No,” said Resnek.
Questioning continued on the leather-bound BU notebook Resnek claimed to have with him during his seven-minute meeting with Cornelio at the City Clerk’s Office. Robbins asks Resnek to elaborate on when he had taken any notes pertaining to the Corey Street deal, particularly after the lawsuit was filed against him. Resnek claimed he was attempting to establish a timeline and instead, testified that he wrote in the wrong dates after the fact.
“So, you knew what the stakes were, correct? You knew that you were being accused of having fabricated quotes, correct?” asked Robbins. “I thought I had defamed the mayor,” replied Resnek.
“Yeah, and you knew – and you knew that you were being also accused of having fabricated quotes, correct?’ “Okay,” said Resnek.
“And after being – after knowing that you were accused of having fabricated quotes – you go back into your notebook and you write in information in the notebook that actually wasn’t there on the day when you actually took the notes, correct?
“Yes,” stated Resnek.
Despite all his efforts to establish a timeline in his notebook, Resnek wrote in the wrong date of the Cornelio City Clerk’s Office interview, writing, “Sept. 14th Sergio in office at city hall, September delivery”, “Wednesday, September 2nd, 11:30”, “September 7th”, and September 11th”, when, in fact, Resnek claimed that it was August 27.
Resnek then states that the quotes in his notebook, such as “He wants my job,” were given to him by Philbin, but he has nothing written attributed to Philbin making that statement or the date the statement was made. “It’s hard to put dates onto things after the fact,” stated Resnek. “It sure is, isn’t it?” replied the attorney.
Robbins has Resnek read quotes from his notebook and asks who spoke those words; Resnek refuses to answer due to confidentiality.
Resnek also claimed that Philbin offered him quotes from Cornelio which read in his articles which emanated from a “7-hour interview sitdown” with Cornelio and his parents at Cornelio’s home. When asked if the quotes were from Philbin as said to him by Cornelio, Resnek replied they were but had trouble giving the date of the meeting, saying August 25 or 27. Resnek then claimed that Philbin met with Cornelio on the same day he was delivering newspapers but couldn’t recall the date, stating it could have been the night after Philbin met with his parents. In either instance, the intrepid reporter couldn’t guess when both dates occurred.
Resnek was then asked to highlight in different colored markers which quotes were attributed to who – blue for Philbin statements made to him by Cornelio when he was asked for the dates of the meetings between the two. In a surprise twist, Resnek then stated that he may have the dates in a notebook he has at his Lynn home. Robbins asked if there are notes at his home that may show the date in which Philbin told him of certain statements made by Cornelio; Resnek said, “Yes, absolutely.”
Robbins would continue his questioning, centering around, once again, remarks in the notebook, claimed by Resnek to be made by Sergio, as told to him by Matthew Philbin. But again, Resnek stated that there aren’t any notes made by either himself or Philbin, who Resnek claimed to have had a seven-hour interview with Cornelio and his parents at the Cornelio home.
Next week: Resnek Blue Suit starts unraveling – again.