Walsh Weathers Controversy, Inquiries

Four-Term Councillor Investigated by Federal Authorities for Bank Fraud, Real Estate Dealings

During a year in which allegations of financial wrongdoing ended the careers of several national politicians, one Cambridge councillor has survived accusations of shady dealings and evaded an almost-certain political death.

Federal officials launched an investigation of fourth-term City councillor William H. Walsh for suspected bank fraud in December.

But so far Walsh appears to have weathered the controversy over his questionable real estate dealings.

Justice Department officials are currently investigating if Walsh artificially inflated condominium prices to obtain larger mortgages from banks and prevent the failure of his 70-unit condominium development in Weymouth.

According to newspaper reports, Walsh is also under investigation for illegally transferring ownership of dozens of condominiums.


Walsh--who owns condos throughout the suburban Boston area--flatly denies all the charges.

But a federal grand jury subpoenaed documents in late January as evidence for the two counts of fraud with which Walsh may be charged.

Walsh says that even if federal charges are eventually leveled, they will not stick. Walsh says he has won all civil suits brought against him by banks, former clients and former partners. Walsh has already battled a slew of lawsuits and it currently entangled in at least 25 more that allege Walsh engaged in financial improprieties.

Although no findings in the federal investigation have been leaked to the press recently, the shadow of impropriety still looms over Walsh.

The councillor, however, has managed to continue with his law firm and council duties, even though the suspicions are widespread, persistent and allegedly infringing on his career in the public sector.

Walsh, an Independent councillor, has battled rent-control and has a history of having a pro-development stance in the council.

Questions about the integrity of Walsh's financial business circulated Cambridge long before federal investigators announced their probe in mid-December.

The questions of Walsh's actions were intensified by his active efforts at city Hall to push for the passage of some of the strictest ethics regulations in the nation.

The legislation requires the city's elected officials to publicly disclose financial holding and the names of all business partners.

The law was designed to prevent councillors from confusing the differences between public and private interests of city officials.