A federal judge sentenced former Massachusetts state Rep. David Nangle to 15 months in prison on Wednesday after the Lowell Democrat pleaded guilty earlier this year to illegally using campaign funds.
He used the money to fund a lifestyle that included golf club memberships and casino trips to Connecticut and lying to banks about his debt to obtain mortgages and other loans.
Nangle, who spent 22 years in the Legislature, once enjoyed a prominent position in House leadership under former Speaker Robert DeLeo, but he saw it all come crashing down after he was arrested in early 2020 and charged with a raft of crimes, many of which stemmed from his gambling debts.
Prosecutors said that, during the period covered by their investigation, Nangle was heavily in debt and gambling at various New England casinos, using campaign funds to rent cars to travel to casinos and even paying someone at Mohegan Sun to collect his winnings so he didn't have to pay income taxes.
U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel ordered Nangle to pay restitution of $33,347 to the Internal Revenue Service, and he will also forfeit $15,650.
After his prison sentence is complete, Nangle will spend two years under supervised release.
"He broke the law and violated his duty to the voters – as Chairman of the Ethics Committee, no less. This case is the latest proof that this office is intent on holding corrupt public officials accountable," said Nathaniel Mendell, the acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.
Prosecutors had been seeking a prison term of 18 months for Nangle, but the former lawmaker's attorney Carmine Lepore asked the court to let his client serve 12 months of home confinement and three years of supervised release, instead.
More on the Nangle Case
Lepore, according to CommonWealth magazine, wrote that Nangle was "an effective, diligent, caring and loyal representative of his constituents" driven to his crimes by an addiction to gambling for which he was treated after his arrest.
Zobel's decision to sentence Nangle to significant prison time should send a message to "corrupt public officials who try to undermine the integrity of our government," said Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the F.B.I.'s office in Boston.
"State lawmakers are elected by the people, to serve the people, not to serve their own financial interests like David Nangle did. Mr. Nangle betrayed his constituents' trust and broke the law, knowing full well what he was doing was wrong," Bonavolonta said.
A year after he was first arrested at his home in Lowell, Nangle in February pleaded guilty to 23 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and embezzling campaign funds to pay for dues at a local golf club, rental cars, flowers for his girlfriend, gas, hotels and restaurants.
He also admitted to concealing debt from banks to obtain a home mortgage and three home equity lines of credit totaling $115,000 and to filing false tax returns for five years.
All of this took place while Nangle represented the 17th Middlesex District in Lowell, rising under DeLeo to chair the House Ethics Committee and eventually becoming a member of the speaker's leadership team as one of four floor division chairs.
Following his arrest in February 2020, Nangle resigned his positions in House leadership, but stayed on in the House and vowed to fight the charges brought against him. He eventually lost his reelection bid to Rep. Vanna Howard.
"These crimes ought to be investigated and prosecuted, and that's exactly what our judicial system did. I hope David Nangle learns from his mistakes and moves on with his life after completion of his sentence," said House Speaker Ron Mariano, a Quincy Democrat who served many years in the House and in leadership with Nangle.
As part of his plea, Nangle agreed to waive his right to appeal any sentence of 30 months or less in prison, and the government gave up its right to pursue obstruction of justice or extortion charges related to an alleged "stream of benefits" Nangle received from an unnamed associate who owns a Billerica company.
Investigators allege Nangle helped the Billerica business owner by sponsoring and shepherding legislation to benefit one of his clients in exchange for $27,000 that was attributed to a "sham consulting agreement."