SALEM -- Amid a roomful of media, embattled Congressman John Tierney stood at a podium at the Hawthorne Hotel this afternoon and again declared that he knew nothing of his in-laws' illegal, multi-million-dollar offshore gambling operation.
"Let me be 100-percent clear. As I have said numerous times and consistently from the beginning, including the first day any news broke on this: I believed at that time that my brother-in-law was working in a legitimate, legal online gambling business in Antigua," Tierney said in an opening statement, before reporters grilled the eight-term Democrat from Salem for nearly an hour.
"I believed this because Robert (Eremian's) parole officer believed it. I believed it because the U.S. attorney believed it. And I believed it because a United States District Court judge believed it."
Tierney's brothers-in-law, Robert and Daniel Eremian, were indicted on federal racketeering and illegal gaming charges in 2010, and Tierney has maintained since that that is when he learned they were engaged in illegal gambling. He has often cited a 2002 court order allowing Robert Eremian to return to Antigua to work after a tax evasion conviction as the reason he never suspected any wrongdoing.
"I was always a bit skeptical because I knew their history of gambling problems in Massachusetts, but then you verify," Tierney said yesterday, again speaking of the court order.
For several years after Eremian returned to Antigua, Tierney's wife, Patrice, managed a bank account in Salem where Robert Eremian deposited more than $7 million over the years, funds she used to pay her brother's taxes and support his family still living in Massachusetts, occasionally keeping some money for herself, according to court documents.
Patrice Tierney pleaded guilty in 2010 to aiding her brother Robert in filing false tax returns and was sentenced to 30 days in prison in 2011. In the process, she admitted to being "willfully blind" to the actual source of her brother's millions.