Leader Herald Owner Admits Transferring His Properties After Resnek Deposition Implicates Him In Defamation Scheme
(Editor’s Note: The following story was published in the Everett Advocate on April 21, 2023)
Everett Leader Herald owner Matthew Philbin’s second deposition shed light on his plan to take down the mayor as well as hiding his property from certain justice thanks to his own testimony on April 12, 2023, at the Boston law offices of Saul Ewing LLP, Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s attorneys.
Philbin admitted that he was well aware when he was served with both the original complaint and the amended complaint and that he had followed the deposition admissions by his corrupt publisher Joshua Resnek, who had engaged in a campaign of false, defamatory statements published in the Leader Herald about DeMaria in order to ruin his chances for reelection in 2021. In addition, Philbin knew that the insurance company that held his libel and slander policy was threatening to disclaim any coverage of him, which would leave him uninsured and his three properties vulnerable to attachment by the court. Philbin admitted that he transferred three buildings that were in his personal name and that of his brother, Andrew Philbin, Jr., to newly formed limited liability companies on October 4, 2022.
Philbin’s worries began when Everett City Clerk Sergio Cornelio, also a defendant, testified in his deposition on May 3, 2022, stating that Resnek had fabricated his quotes and had never interviewed him with respect to a real estate deal between himself and the mayor. Through his own testimony, Resnek made his long series of admissions during four depositions starting in June and culminating in his devastating admissions of September 1, 2022. An expanded amended complaint was then filed against Philbin, Resnek and Dorchester Publications, LLC on August 22, 2022, which would allow DeMaria to look back to 2017 when Philbin and Resnek first started publishing. In July or August 2022, Philbin’s counsel withdrew from representing him, leaving Philbin to obtain new counsel. On September 6, DeMaria’s lawyers subpoenaed Philbin’s former vice president for operations, Elena Vega, who provided sworn testimony on October 3, stating that the Leader Herald wasn’t a legitimate newspaper.
On October 4, 2022, Philbin transferred three Everett properties – two on Chelsea Street and one on Ferry Street – out of his own name and into the name of three newly formed limited liability companies. These have all the earmarks of fraudulent transfers: attempts by Philbin to hide his assets in order to try to evade having his property attached as a result of a jury verdict against him.
Philbin admitted to knowing when Sergio Cornelio and Resnek’s depositions were taken, but claimed he only heard about the testimony of the two defendants from others secondhand. Asked if he ever discussed with his corrupt publisher his testimony, Philbin admitted that he did.
Philbin, who has denied that he played any role in reviewing and approving the defamatory articles, is shown text after text, email after email, proving that he insisted that he be shown every article before it was published, that in fact the articles were as a matter of procedure shown to him for his review, comment and approval before the articles were published.
“Can you think of any occasion when the newspaper was published without your approval? Can you identify any such occasion?” asked Atty. Robbins.
“I can’t give you a particular date,” said Philbin.
The questions turned to the newspaper offering free political advertising to a candidate in exchange for an interview. Philbin admitted to having dinner with Margaret Cornelio, Sergio Cornelio’s mother, who ran for city councillor in 2021. Philbin, along with his brother, stated he met with Mr. and Mrs. Cornelio, and their son, City Clerk Sergio Cornelio, at a Lynn restaurant, claiming he didn’t know why she wanted to meet with him. The attorney asked Philbin if the meeting was intended to provide information pertaining to the mayor and the city clerk’s real estate deal, which Resnek reported to be illegal, and to pave the way for a Boston Globe story.
Shown an exhibit of an email between Resnek and Boston Globe reporter Andrea Estes about the lunch with Mrs. Cornelio, Resnek writes, “I loaded it up nicely. Mrs. Cornelio’s quarter page thank you helped things along. She’s paying but it won’t be much.”
Philbin denied having any conversation with Resnek about offering advertising to Mrs. Cornelio as an incentive.
He was then shown another email between Resnek and Mrs. Cornelio, where Resnek writes, “I am placing a quarter page ad for your campaign in Wednesday’s paper which will distributed to every home in the city. Let me know about Sergio giving Andrea [Estes] a call or her giving him a call. Thanks. The ad is on Matt, and I don’t pay attention to the billing. Keep campaigning.”
Philbin then admitted to the attorney that Resnek’s email to Margaret Cornelio states that he’s paying for the political ad.
Philbin is shown another email from Resnek to him, stating, “Matt, we have taken care of Mrs. Cornelio as suggested/directed. All set.” Philbin claimed that he didn’t know what Resnek was referring to. Asked if he called Resnek and asked for an explanation, Philbin said he didn’t remember.
Philbin admitted that Dorchester Publications, LLC is essentially a sham enterprise. He could point to no operating agreement, no corporate records and no assets other than tables and computers, according to his testimony. He had to pump $500,000 of his own money into the newspaper to pay the expenses, which included paying himself and his brother rent as they owned the Church Street building the paper operated from. There are no documents of any kind referencing any loan of any kind for the $500,000; instead, Philbin just paid it out of his personal accounts and the accounts of his various companies.
During testimony, Atty. Jeffrey Robbins asked Philbin if he wrote checks from his own accounts to Dorchester Publications. Philbin replied, “I’ve transferred money from my account into Dorchester Publications.”
An exhibit presented by the attorney showed an email dated from 2021 from his former vice president of operations, Elena Vega, where she provides Philbin with the yearly expense report for the newspaper, stating, “To date, you have contributed $97,305.32.”
Philbin also testified that he paid for the purchase of the Leader Herald newspaper, yet records show that he paid nothing for the newspaper, but that rather, his father, Andrew T. Philbin, Sr. bought it from Elizabeth Curnane, wife of the late publisher Joseph Curnane, Jr. following his passing, and just gave it to him, according to evidence presented at the deposition.
In documents provided by the elder Philbin to the mayor’s attorneys, there is an Asset Purchase Agreement between Everett Leader Publishing, Inc. and Andrew T. Philbin, or his nominee. Philbin questions the document’s signature despite being provided with multiple purchase and sale agreements between Mrs. Curnane and his father.
“Do you have any evidence that you purchased the newspaper?” asked the attorney.
“Yes, I believe there is,” replied Philbin.
“What kind?” asked Robbins.
“I don’t know,” said Philbin.
Not knowing, remembering or recalling was par for the course.
—Next week: Philbin claims he never meant to hurt the mayor – or not.