Outraged Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) tenants and organizers will meet with U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz today, April 11th, to discuss the plea deal and sentencing of former, disgraced CHA Director Michael McLaughlin.
Attorney Jay Rose – who has assisted residents in organizing a tenant-driven protest of McLaughlin’s plea deal – said the informal group delivered some 350 signed letters from public housing residents to Ortiz last week.
“It was quite an impressive letter writing effort,” Rose told the Record. “They delivered those to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz last week, and within three hours of delivery, Ortiz called the Chelsea Collaborative personally and agreed to meet with organizers and tenants as soon as possible. It was an immediate response and the tenants are really happy about her response.”
That meeting will take place today, Thursday, at 10 a.m.
Rose – of Greater Boston Legal Services – had started organizing tenants when they contacted his organization following the news that McLaughlin had made a plea deal with Ortiz’s office and could get away without going to jail. The outrage within Chelsea public housing apparently snowballed, and Rose enlisted the help of the Collaborative.
Several meetings have taken place, and the letter writing campaign was a direct result of those meetings.
Now, it looks like action from the top has come quicker than anyone anticipated.
Rose said that three to five organizers and tenants would meet with Ortiz, and nearly 30 more tenants are expected to go with them to show their support.
Rose said the tenants would be asking to speak as victims at McLaughlin’s sentencing hearing in May.
“They’re really happy she’s meeting with them and they’ll ask for her to support them in going to the sentencing to testify and express their outrage as victims of Mr. McLaughlin,” said Rose. “They want to address the judge before sentencing and will be filing papers shortly to do so. They are now quite hopeful Ortiz will give her support to their effort due to her prompt response. It made the tenants feel that she understood what they went through for so many years.”
Ortiz’s office is directly responsible for giving McLaughlin the plea deal that he signed in February, and depending on how much information he shares, could result in him getting little to no jail time.