Carlo DeMaria, Jr. vs. Everett Leader Herald, Sergio Cornelio, Joshua Resnek, Matthew Philbin and Andrew Philbin, Sr.
(Editor’s Note: This story was published in the Everett Advocate on July 15, 2022)
In his third week of video testimony, on June 30, Everett Leader Herald journalist-editor-publisher Josh Resnek was asked when he first learned about the lawsuit against him. Resnek stated he had heard from a number of people “anecdotally,” including Councillor-at-Large Mike Marchese, although it was transcribed as Mark Marchese. Resnek stated that he called Matthew Philbin, the owner of the Leader Herald, who told him to “wait to be served.”
Representing Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Attorney Jeffrey Robbins asked Resnek if he communicated with Philbin over the years about DeMaria; Resnek replied that they did, about their feelings and articles regarding the mayor, whether it by text, email or telephone. “Absolutely,” affirmed Resnek.
When asked how many times per week the two would email each other, Resnek stated roughly two or three times for roughly five years. Robbins offered Resnek an estimate of 500 emails a year between him and Philbin about the mayor. “But there would be hundreds of emails between you and him regarding Mr. DeMaria in some fashion, correct? asked Robbins.
“Regarding the news,” said Resnek.
“I know regarding the news, but regarding Mr. DeMaria?” asked DeMaria’s attorney.
“Well, he is the news,” replied Resnek.
“Okay. As far as the paper is concerned, Mr. DeMaria is the news?” Robbins asked again.
“Yes, sir,” confirmed Resnek.
Robbins then asked Resnek how many times he emailed or texted Philbin over the last five years regarding potential stories about DeMaria; Resnek said at least a couple of hundred times, but not just about the mayor. The attorney then stated that he and Philbin hadn’t produced a single email between the two and only a single day of texts. Resnek claimed he didn’t know that and didn’t conduct a search of emails between himself and Philbin relating to DeMaria in connection with the lawsuit.
Resnek then stated that some forensic people working for his attorney had taken 26,000 emails from his computer. (With respect to the electronic communications, as reported by the Everett Advocate last week, the defendants must turn over within two weeks all unredacted emails, texts and phone records by the Everett Leader Heraldnewspaper, Matthew Philbin and Andrew Philbin, Sr., and Joshua Resnek related to the current lawsuit. This would also include the identities of all purported sources, according to a judgment by Middlesex Superior Court Judge James Budreau dated June 30, 2022.)
Notes that aren’t notes
Robbins’ questioning returned back to Resnek’s notebook that contained his notes about the 2020 Corey St. property deal between DeMaria and Sergio Cornelio – making changes two or three times and still writing the wrong information after he learned he was being sued in Oct. 2021. “But you wrote down dates for things that were supposedly said to you that were completely incorrect, right? asked Robbins.
“They proved to be incorrect, yes,” stated the Leader Herald’s journalist.
Resnek was then asked about quotes in his notebook, such as “September delivery, September 2nd, 11:30,” which would be his claim of when he met City Clerk Cornelio outside his City Hall office while delivering papers, which he admitted he wrote in his notebook after he was sued.
“Ethics filing doubtful”, “I was broke at end” and “Sergio, he wants my job” were other examples of notes that Resnek admitted weren’t originally in the notebook but were written after being sued.
“So now we know that it’s not just dates that you went back in and changed, but it’s actually substantive material that you wrote – went back and wrote in after the lawsuit was filed, correct?”
Resnek answered, “Yes, sir,” then admitted that his information, such as the Sept. 11 date, was actually false.
In previous testimony, Resnek claimed that the quotes were attributed to Matthew Philbin, but he has since recanted his statement, saying they were not “exact quotes” by his boss, calling the quotes “sum and substance” statements made by Philbin and all his witnesses collectively.
Robbins asked Resnek if the quotes were from Cornelio given to Philbin; Resnek stated they were and were written by him but then admitted that there weren’t any notes of any quotes from Cornelio that he had stated in previous testimony. “They’re not exact quotes given to me by Mr. Philbin,” stated Resnek.
“And they’re not quotes that Mr. Cornelio gave you either?” asked Robbins.
“That is correct,” replied Resnek.
On a search through the pages of the notebook, Resnek – along with Robbins and Resnek’s Attorney, Bernie Guekguezian – is shown notes that he admits, again, were written after the lawsuit was filed. Robbins then asked Resnek if he knew that his notes used in preparation of his articles were going to be used as evidence in the lawsuit; he said he did. Resnek then admitted the evidence he was turning over to counsel for the lawsuit contained notes he created after the lawsuit was filed against him.
Unaware of the truth
“You knew in 2020 that Mr. DeMaria and Mr. Cornelio were jointly involved in the Corey St. property, correct?” asked Robbins.
“No, I didn’t,” responded Resnek. Resnek said that he wasn’t aware of the property deal until August or September of 2021.
Robbins then showed Resnek Exhibit 28 with, an article written by Resnek in June 2020 with the headline “The mayor is doing a deal with a city official” – The mayor’s Blue Suit. Asked if it was an article written by him 15 months before he wrote the Sept. 2021 articles that are at the center of the lawsuit about the DeMaria/Cornelio joint venture on Corey Street, Resnek declared, “It’s from The Blue Suit.”
“Okay, so if it’s from a Martian, you’re writing this entire article about the Corey Street project that Mr. DeMaria and Mr. Cornelio had gone into together; you’re writing about it in June of 2020, correct?” asked the attorney.
“Yes, it is,” replied the reporter. Resnek stated that he only had anecdotal information about the Corey Street property deal, claiming that it was a fictional piece, but Robbins walked Resnek through his article which discloses facts about the property deal. Again, Resnek admitted to knowing all the facts about the property deal back in June 2020, disputing his previous testimony under oath.
“So beginning no later than June of 2020, you had the information about the fact that Mr. DeMaria and Mr. Cornelio had gone into this venture on Corey Street together, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Resnek.
“And you have yourself writing, ‘Do you really believe the mayor does deals like this? In other cities this would be considered a conflict of interest. The kind you go to jail for.’ That’s what you write here,” asked Robbins about the article.
“Yes, sir,” replied Resnek.
Robbins pointed out that he (Resnek) had between June 2020 and Sept. 2021 to check with the City Clerk’s Office and the State Ethics Commission on their opinion if DeMaria had made a disclosure of interest in the Corey Street property, or to contact the Everett Co-operative Bank or the second mortgage lender or any of the contractors regarding the property deal, to which Resnek admitted he did. But again, Resnek claimed he didn’t know that DeMaria and Cornelio were partners in the land deal before Sept. 2021, then he admitted he had over a year to investigate the claims and interview Cornelio about the property deal but failed to do so.
Robbins then asked Resnek if he had made any notes pertaining to any conversations with anyone about the property deal prior to Sept. 2021 – but only notes created after he was sued, to which Resnek admitted was true. “And if I understand it, what happened is you created notes after the lawsuit was filed, then you read the notes that you had created and you went back two or three times to modify the notes that you had created, correct?
“Yes, sir,” replied Resnek.
The attorney then provided Exhibit 29, an article written by Resnek about the mayor, but this time written in May 2020 about DeMaria’s property deal. It would be 16 months later that the Leader Herald published two articles about the Corey Street land deal between DeMaria and Cornelio as it was leading up to the election. “It was no coincidence that you wrote these articles in Sept. 2021?” asked Robbins.
“There’s no coincidence in it,” replied Resnek.
Robbins asked him if he and Philbin wanted the mayor to lose; Resnek admitted as such. “Philbin tells you – has been telling you for a long time – he wants DeMaria to lose, right?”
“Yes,” said Resnek. Resnek then attempted to dismiss his stories riddled with allegations as “the stuff of dreams,” claiming they were all made up.
Robbins asked Resnek if he discussed with Philbin the content of the Sept. 2021 stories that accused DeMaria of extortion, theft and threatening Cornelio’s life leading up to the primary election; Resnek said he did, as well as with DeMaria’s primary opponents former Councillor Fred Capone and Gerly Adrian. “I communicated every day with them,” said Resnek.
“You communicated with Mr. Capone every day?” asked Robbins.
“Yes, sir,” stated Resnek, saying they spoke about the mayoral campaign.
Robbins asked him if he had told DeMaria’s opponents that he was going to write articles accusing the mayor of committing crimes; Resnek attempted to muddy his answer, saying “only if he had knowledge of that” but admitted he had made the accusations of criminal conduct by the mayor in numerous articles.
Notes, who needs notes?
Robbins then submitted Exhibit 30, a copy of a letter dated Aug. 20, 2020, written to the mayor from Attorney Brian W. Riley, which provided an ethics opinion and a conflict of interest opinion with respect to the Corey Street land deal. Resnek stated that he had never seen the letter before today, despite a copy being in the City Clerk’s Office that is available to the public. As in previous testimony, Resnek admitted he never bothered to investigate or make any attempts to retrieve any public information regarding the land deal between the DeMaria and Cornelio.
When asked if there was a practice between him and his employer to review his stories before they were sent to press, Resnek replied, “From time to time.”
“In Sept. of 2021, Mr. Philbin certainly knew that you were writing articles and editorials about Mr. DeMaria, correct?
“Yes, of course,” replied Resnek.
“And he made it pretty clear” – “Mr. Philbin wanted Mr. DeMaria defeated, correct?
“Yes, sir,” replied the reporter.
On Exhibit 33, a Sept. 8, 2021, article, “The $96,000 disgrace,” Resnek admitted to accusing the mayor in the article of threatening and demanding money from Cornelio; abusing his position, his authority and his power as mayor; and engaging in unethical and illegal conduct. Resnek, in the same article, admitted to recommending the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office to review the Corey Street matter – as well as a review by the State Ethics Commission. “You made no effort to ascertain whether it’s true or false, correct? asked Robbins about the State Ethics Commission approval.
“That’s correct,” replied Resnek.
“You state point blank, as a matter of fact, that Mr. DeMaria’s involvement in the Corey St. project was, quote/unquote, “illegal,” correct?”
“Yes, sir,” admitted Resnek.
“And you urged the citizens of Everett on the basis of this Corey St. transaction to reject him – his reelection, correct?” asked Robbins. “Yes, sir,” said Resnek.
“The primary was on September 21st, correct? asked the attorney.
“Yes, sir,” replied Resnek.
Robbins then asked him – aside from posting the Sept. 8 and Sept. 15 articles on the newspaper’s website – asked him if he had sent the articles to The Boston Globe, namely reporter Andrea Estes, in hopes of getting some attention. Resnek admitted to sending the stories to The Globe and Estes, as well as publishing inflammatory quotes from his articles on the newspaper’s website. As an example, Robbins asked if he posted “The mayor scams $96,000 from the city clerk.” Resnek admitted he did make the post, among others, including calling the mayor a sexual harasser and an FBI informant.
Again, the Leader Herald’s self-proclaimed “wordsmith” admitted to not having any consequential notes to back up any of his stories – including the two that are at the heart of the lawsuit, published in his Sept. 8 and Sept. 15 editions leading up the election – only the notes he created after the lawsuit was filed in Oct. 2021.
Next week: Never listen to the pollsters.