BOSTON -- The next time disgraced former Chelsea Housing Authority director Michael E. McLaughlin walks into Suffolk Superior Court to face the state charges against him it will be with a new attorney.
Based on court documents, defense attorney Thomas Hoopes, who was by McLaughlin's side throughout his federal case, submitted paperwork withdrawing as the 67-year-old Dracut man's attorney.
Hoopes' reasons for withdrawing were not immediately available on the court docket.
At a pretrial conference scheduled in Superior Court on Jan. 28, McLaughlin will likely be appointed a new attorney considering he is currently serving a three-year federal prison sentence.
Earlier this year, McLaughlin pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to federal charges that he under-reported his grossly-inflated salary to state and federal agencies. Under fire for receiving more than $360,000 in an annual salary, McLaughlin resigned from his post.
He is now facing state charges in Suffolk Superior Court alleging he illegally solicited campaign donations and other political activities for then-Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and a Lawrence mayoral candidate.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of unlawful solicitation by a public employee, four counts of solicitation in a public building and four counts of conspiracy to solicit in a public building.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley alleges that McLaughlin, then the head of the Chelsea Housing Authority, solicited CHA employees to attend three Murray fundraisers. He also allegedly asked a CHA employee to collect contributions and distribute invitations to fundraisers.
Prosecutors allege that CHA employees were asked for $100 in cash as contributions. The money was allegedly collected and delivered to McLaughlin with a list of the contributors.
Coakley also alleges that McLaughlin asked CHA workers to contribute to Israel Reyes' 2009 Lawrence mayoral campaign.
CHA workers were allegedly asked by McLaughlin to perform political duties for Murray and Reyes, including holding campaign signs.
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