Cornelio denies giving any interview to Resnek for Sept. 8, 15, 2021, stories which slander mayor
In what could be called a bombshell to the Philbin newspaper venture, which published, according to Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s defamation lawsuit filed on October 7, 2021, two stories in Sept. of 2021 prior to the primary election claiming Everett City Clerk Sergio Cornelio made accusations that the mayor extorted him after partnering in a commercial property deal, Cornelio has testified to the contrary. Cornelio’s May 3, 2022, testimony to attorneys suing Everett Leader-Herald owner Matthew Philbin, Andrew Philbin, Sr. and reporter Josh Resnek states that the claims were never given and he was never interviewed by Resnek for the two stories published on Sept 8. and Sept. 15 defaming the mayor. It is now shown through the city clerk’s own testimony that they were false and defamatory articles to hurt the mayor’s reelection.
In a copy of the deposition provided to The Advocate by a source close to the case, Cornelio stated to Attorney Jeff Robbins of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, one of the attorneys representing the mayor, that Resnek first appeared at his City Hall office while delivering newspapers in 2021 and stated to him that he knew about the 43 Corey St. commercial property deal that Cornelio and the mayor were involved in and asserted to the city clerk, “The mayor is extorting you – you have to grow a pair of balls!”
Cornelio said that he met with City Councillor Mike Marchese in the summer of 2021 after the councillor approached him about purchasing his Elsie Street property, which his wife, a Somerville police detective, would purchase under asking price.
Cornelio stated in the deposition that Greg Antonelli and Mike Marchese approached him over suing the mayor over the proceeds from the Corey Street property deal, which at one time, Cornelio also testified that Antonelli, owner of GTA Landscaping, was interested in purchasing, offering at one time $1.25 million but claimed that Antonelli would later walk away from the deal.
Cornelio claimed that he wasn’t interested in suing the mayor but spoke to Atty. Joseph Marchese by phone after being referred to by Councillor Marchese, a former longtime friend of the mayor turned enemy along with his brother, Joseph. But that’s when the pressure started to mount from Leader-Herald owner Matt Philbin, according to the deposition, when, for example, Cornelio attended dinners hosted by Philbin, and his brother, Andrew, an Everett firefighter and rooming house owner, and former City Clerk David Ragucci.
It has been mentioned in the mayor’s lawsuit that the Philbin’s, through their newspaper, were seeking revenge over then-Alderman Carlo DeMaria’s scrutiny of the Philbin’s rooming house issues on Chelsea Street.
In multiple occasions during the deposition, Cornelio testified that the property deal for the Corey Street property was indeed a mutual arrangement with the mayor and that they agreed to a 55/45 split, with the 45% going to the mayor. Multiple texts were presented as evidence proving their business arrangement was anything close to contentious. Having no experience with developing property or ever obtaining a mortgage, Cornelio relied on DeMaria to put the entire sale of the property together, admitting in testimony that the mayor obtained everything – from a surveyor and legal support to finding a buyer for the property – and that it was all legal in every way. The mayor and Cornelio both sought legal advice from KP Law regarding their ethical obligations as municipal employees. An opinion was provided which stated that the mayor did not violate his ethical obligations, and DeMaria was advised to file a disclosure pursuant to Gen. Laws c. 268A, § 23(b)(3). On August 25, 2020, the State Ethics Commission issued an advisory opinion concurring with the attorney.
Despite that, Cornelio admitted that Resnek told him in a meeting in the City Clerk’s Office that he (Resnek) knew that DeMaria “extorted me and that he took $96, $97 hundred thousand dollars, whatever exact amount he said, and I need to grow a set of balls and go fight the Mayor.” Cornelio stated that the meeting lasted only six minutes – the only time he claimed he ever had a face-to-face meeting with Resnek, according to the deposition.
Cornelio testified that Resnek told him that the mayor had extorted money from him. But when he asked why he was talking to him (Cornelio) “if he had all the facts or what you believe to be the facts,” Resnek replied that it didn’t matter – he was writing the story no matter what and all he needed was the disbursement checks.
When asked if Resnek ever asked him whether or not he had an actual agreement with the mayor where the mayor would be entitled to a share of the proceeds, Cornelio stated, “I never spoke to Mr. Resnek about any of that.”
The big question was finally asked when the attorney asked Cornelio, “Did Mr. Resnek ever interview you in connection with the articles that he wrote about Corey Street? Cornelio replied, “Mr. Resnek has never interviewed me about Corey Street.”
When asked if anyone from the Leader Herald ever asked him about the facts leading up to the sale of Corey Street and the distribution of the proceeds, Cornelio testified that there was “some discussion – he asked me a few questions.”
When he was asked to identify who “he” was, Sergio stated, “Mr. Philbin – Matt Philbin.”
Cornelio claimed that Resnek appeared only one time at his office for an interview to speak to him about the sale of Corey Street and that Resnek did all the talking. “He spoke,” said Cornelio about Resnek. “I’d have to speak to be interviewed.”
“Did you ever provide any quotes to Mr. Resnek about what had occurred with respect to the purchase of Corey Street, the sale of Corey Street or the distribution of proceeds from the sale of Corey Street?” Cornelio’s answer, “No, I did not.”
When asked by the attorney, on the occasion of the stories about Mr. DeMaria and Corey Street, did he (Resnek) “literally make up” Cornelio’s quotes? Cornelio replied, “Yes.”
Next week: Resnek’s deposition of lies.