Dave Wedge Stays On Top Of LaGuer Case (with a twist)

Dave Wedge seems to have gotten the scoop on the fact that Patrick’s new chief of staff is one of the many prominent people to have had high praise for Ben LaGuer over the years. It seems Wedge may have had some research help from the Massachusetts Republican State Committee. (See the data from the BenLaGuer.com web site below the flip). The MRSC was there via Google at 2 p.m. and the Herald followed just under two hours later. Coincidence? You decide.

Top adviser involved in bid to free rapist

By Dave Wedge

Boston Herald Chief Enterprise Reporter

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, tapped by Deval Patrick as his new top adviser, is a close friend of the governor-elect who joined him in the controversial failed bid to free convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer.
  In an excerpt of a letter posted on LaGuer’s Web site, Wallace-Benjamin called the con “a talented writer, an intelligent advocate, and a man whose experience and life lessons make him a valuable member of the community.”
  Wallace-Benjamin, who will become Patrick’s chief of staff in January, stepped into the LaGuer case in 1998 amid revelations that a former parole board member, Terence McArdle, had used racial slurs. The Urban League of Massachusetts, then headed by Wallace-Benjamin, sent a letter to the board supporting LaGuer’s release.
  In a 1998 newspaper interview, Wallace-Benjamin said of the flap: “It is ironic, yet sad that once again Ben LaGuer is a victim of this kind of racial hatred in an official proceeding, and that his future is held in the balance by men like Mr. McArdle.”
  The LaGuer case became a central issue in the heated race between Patrick and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey after it was revealed that Patrick wrote LaGuer supportive letters and backed his failed parole bids. Excerpts from Patrick’s letters, which were first reported in the Herald, have appeared in the “testimonials” section of LaGuer’s Web site alongside Wallace-Benjamin’s quote, but have been removed.
  A Patrick spokesman declined comment last night.

But here is an interesting twist:

It looks like David Wedge and Benjamin LaGuer will both be playing the role of “Defendant/Appellant” in the SJC on January 4, 2007. Take a look at the SJC Docket for ERNEST B. MURPHY vs. BOSTON HERALD, INC. & another and then go to the docket for COMMONWEALTH vs. BENJAMIN LaGUER. They are both scheduled for the same day. Wedge figures prominently in the first (he is named as a defendant along with his employer) and the second, of course, bears LaGuer’s name.


(Massachusetts Republican State Committee)

Massachusetts, Boston, United States, 0 returning visits

Date Time WebPage

17th November 2006 12:19:45 PM www.benlaguer.com/

No referring link

17th November 2006 02:01:36 PM www.benlaguer.com/testimonials.html

www.google.com/search?as_q=Joan Wallace-Benjamin&num=10&hl=en&btnG=Google Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&lr=&as_ft=i&as_filetype=&as_qdr=all&as_n

bostonherald-br0.cust.e-xpedient.com (Cavu E-xpedient)

California, Irvine, United States, 7 returning visits

Date Time WebPage

17th November 2006 03:48:54 PM www.benlaguer.com/testimonials.html

No referring link

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10 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Monitoring and websites

    Many do not realize that when they visit a website, they leave a calling card, like this.  I am sure there are savvy ways to avoid leaving calling cards, but obviously whatever Republican went looking, they did not know how not to leave  a calling card.

    I know I personally resent having myself "watched" when I go to a website, and logged.  But I have also never taken the time to learn how to visit a site, and not leave this kind of information.

    This is the first time I have seen such information (who visited a website first) to have such a direct political implication.  I bet there have been other such instance, but I did not notice them.

    On the other hand, a newsperson would naturally check out such a tip.

    Thank you for covering this.


  2. Thanks for front paging

    The way this case insinuated itself into the campaign is fascinating. For those who haven't already, you can read my annalysis of that in an article called The Anatomy of a Political Hit. You can also read it (with embedded links) HERE.

  3. Oh, and if you want to

    about what Wedge will be doing in court go read Dan Kennedy's take.

  4. I'm Confused.

    Why WOULDN'T the Mass GOP look at the web site?  Were they prohibited in some way?  Why is that scandalous?  That they were monitoring a public issue?

    And Charley, David, et al - I think that YOU need to think hard about the increasing phenomenon of posting IP addresses on BMG - they are the equivalent of address and phone number.  Friend or foe, do you really want to encourage that behavior?

    • caught with hand in the cookie jar

      Peter this is simply not true:

      YOU need to think hard about the increasing phenomenon of posting IP addresses on BMG - they are the equivalent of address and phone number

        Unless you have an organization which carries a registered ISP your name does not appear. As for the regular guy who has AOL,Comcast or MSN no way you can trace the numbers and they change on a regular basis. In the case of a crime Law enforcement may get a court order to have them traced by the provider; a search warrant is required.

      I think Peter it is more that the Republican were caught with their hand in the cookie jar, now ask yourself, why would they want to  be on the Benjamin LaGuer site to begin with.....

      Keep up the good work speaking out in the end the truth will be exposed. 

  5. Big deal

    Firstly, I agree with Peter that exposing IP addresses should be done with extreme caution, only in the case of actual malfeasance.

    Secondly, who cares where Wedge gets his stories from? If someone gave us a tip, it wouldn't matter who gave it to us, or for what reason. Either their info is true or not, and it's either newsworthy or not. In any event, Ms. Wallace-Benjamin's involvement is totally fair game for the press and for political opponents, as was true for Deval Patrick. She went public in her support for LaGuer, after all. I simply hope that the press will give the whole context to the story when they report, as Wedge has done in the past. Would that other journalists had done what he did in the above-linked article, only much sooner. Then we could have had a productive discussion about the actual merits of LaGuer's case. That never happened.

    Furthermore, all of the Ben LaGuer testimonials have been hiding in plain sight all year, if not longer.

    Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

    • Wedge is doing a good job

      I agree that Wedge has been one of the better reporters on this case. What I find interesting is that the Republican State Committee would even see this as a worthy tip. I thought Wedge's article was fine. It reported Wallace-Benjamin's statements and gave a bit of context without sliming anyone.

      The question boils down to whether Wallace-Benjamin is diminished for having said nice things about LaGuer, or whether LaGuer is enhanced for the fact that someone of Wallace-Benjamin's stature said nice things about him? My guess is that the MRSC was banking on Wedge going with a tone that implied the former. My reading of the article is that at the very least the tone is neutral and that it might even lean toward the latter.

      As for publishing IP addresses. I did not put either the MRSC or the Herald IP address in my post, in case you didn't notice. I simply put the textual part of the Stat Counter data in as well as the time stamp. That said, these days unless you take steps to block it, your phone number turns up on a caller ID screen when you call someone. I don't see that as being different from an IP address showing up on a Stat Counter. So putting it on a blog posting is just like republishing a phone number that is already in the book. What's the harm? I did put IP addresses in my post last summer when it looked like the Reilly campaign was trying to use the LaGuer Web site to drop a dime with Wedge. The context of that was that it followed hard on the "killer Coke" dust-up. Because of the pattern it implied I thought putting the IP addresses in my post boosted the credibility of the point I was trying to make.

      In this case, Charley is right to say it's no big deal. Still, when you get to see the inner workings of how a story winds up in the Herald, you have to admit that that is interesting. So, while there may be nothing to see here folks, I wouldn't blame you if you linger for a bit of rubber necking.

      As for Wallace-Benjamin's comments. I think she has nothing to apologize for. The strategic deployment of the LaGuer case in the campaign rested on the notion that LaGuer's actual guilt was sealed by the DNA test. Readers of BMG should know by now that the DNA test was flawed and that four reputable DNA experts have said as much. Her past statements on the case speak well of Wallace-Benjamin's courage and integrity. They also speak well of LaGuer's tenacious efforts to show that he has been wronged by the judicial system.

      By the way, it looks like I'll be speaking about this case again on the radio tomorrow morning. That would be WILD 1090 AM at 7:30 a.m.

  6. If Ben is so guilty he'll stay in jail

    There are too many mitigating facts surrounding this case not to allow another trial. If a fingerprint report was requested, yet not given, then the state has an obligation to let another trial be conducted. The chain of custody has been broken on many of the items of evidence, and for the actual fingerprints to be missing is over the top. There is no way to justify the fact that these fingerprints were lost, or that the report was not given to the defense. I see that the prosecution tries to say the report would not have changed the juror's minds. It would have been the ONLY forensic evidence in this case, so I think that is an outright lie. I know if I were a juror and there were fingerprints on a phone touched by the assailant just moments before the police get there, and they weren't the defendant's, I would have serious doubts. I also know if I were a lawyer and prints were available to test, I would have compared them to the man who people suspect is the true rapist. I won't use his name, but everyone knows that this man went on to be convicted of raping someone else. He matched Ben's description so well that even Ben's own father mistook him for Ben at a distance once.

    Yes, the fingerprints are that big of a deal. I want the truth to come out, and if the state thinks its case is so solid against Ben LaGuer they should stop running like they have something to hide. We need to make sure that we have the right man in jail instead of turning a blind eye. Sending an innocent man to serve life in jail is as heinous a crime as Ben LaGuer is accused of, so let's be sure.

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