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Boston-area reporter ‘fabricated corruption claims’ against mayor, lawsuit says

The mayor of a Boston suburb claims a wealthy Massachusetts family bought a 138-year-old newspaper and used it to generate fake stories to slam him — and, according to court documents, the paper’s reporter admitted in response that his incendiary articles were “all made up.”

Andrew Philbin and his son, Matthew, have allegedly held a decades-long grudge against Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who was an alderman in the 1990s when he rejected the family’s operating permits for local boarding houses which they owned, according to court documents.

The Philbins sought revenge against DeMaria when in 2017 they purchased the Everett Leader Herald — a weekly founded in 1885 — “for the primary purpose of having a vehicle through which to publicly attack” the mayor, it was alleged in court papers.

The Philbins hired a muckraking reporter, Josh Resnek, who allegedly testified in a court deposition that he made up quotes and concocted stories out of thin air regarding DeMaria’s corrupt dealings — among them that he took bribes from casino magnate Steve Wynn and that he paid off women who accused him of sexual assault.

Andrew Philbin
Massachusetts OCABR

Court documents cite a December 2020 email from Resnek to Matthew Philbin which is alleged to have read: “We will crush this guy (DeMaria). We are crushing this guy. He’s had 12 years to build himself up. We’re into our second full year of trying to take him out.”

In a Sep. 6, 2021, email from Resnek to Matthew Philbin, the reporter is alleged by court documents to have written: “[I] think I have this fat f–ker. I’ve been working for three years to bring him down.”

When asked under oath whether Resnek’s articles alleging that DeMaria received kickbacks and extorted individuals out of tens of thousands of dollars, Resnek is alleged to have confessed that it was “all made up.”

Josh Resnek of the Everett Leader Herald admitted in a deposition to fabricating quotes and concocting stories meant to implicate the mayor of Everett, Mass., according to Boston Magazine.
Facebook/Joshua Resnek

When asked by DeMaria’s attorneys whether stories alleging wrongdoing by DeMaria were “100% fabricated,” Resnek is alleged to have replied: “Yes, sir.”

In a response to the claims laid out in the amended lawsuit, Resnek “denies the conclusory allegations and characterizations drawn from the testimony” and “denies the conduct purported to be drawn from same.” Resnek noted that his deposition is “not yet completed.”

The Philbins are also alleged to have hired a private investigator to “secretly surveille” DeMaria and his family, according to court documents. In January 2021, Matthew Philbin is alleged in court documents to have texted Resnek: “Fatty is in Arizona with the in-laws.”

The Philbins have denied the allegations.

The Philbins own several businesses and assets in and around Massachusetts, including commercial and residential real estate, insurance, hotels, and cannabis dispensaries, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Everett, Mass. Mayor Carlo DeMaria
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

The family’s alleged “animus” toward DeMaria stretches back decades, when the mayor served as a city alderman and refused to renew licenses for the Philbins’ operation of local boarding houses, the amended lawsuit alleges.

“Given the then-ongoing issues with boarding houses, Mr. DeMaria would not renew the licenses of non-compliant boarding houses that were adversely impacting their neighborhoods, including those owned by the Philbins,” the amended lawsuit reads.

“Mr. DeMaria’s regulation and review of boarding houses angered the Philbins, who saw Mr. DeMaria as a threat to their financial and business interests,” according to the amended filing.

The Philbins denied all of the allegations contained in court papers, including the assertion that the boarding houses “violated any…rules or regulations.”

The Philbins also denied the claim that the newspaper stories about DeMaria were published with them “knowing that they had no evidence to support their false assertions” with the aim that the articles would “damage Mr. DeMaria and result in his removal from office.”

Resnek continues to work as an independent contractor for the Everett Leader Herald, which has no full-time employees, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Resnek alleged that DeMaria (left) received kickbacks after granting a gaming license to casino magnate Steve Wynn (right).
Boston Globe via Getty Images

According to court documents, Resnek allegedly concocted tales that claim DeMaria extorted a city clerk, sexually harassed and threatened several women, and received kickbacks from casino mogul Steve Wynn.

DeMaria, a native son of Everett who has been elected six times since 2007 to run the town about 20 miles north of Boston, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Resnek and the Philbins.

After the lawsuit was filed in 2021, Resnek was deposed by DeMaria’s attorneys who grilled him on the veracity of his stories alleging corrupt dealings by the mayor.

Resnek’s alleged acknowledgement under oath that his stories were “100% fabricated” prompted the mayor’s attorneys to file an amended complaint in the fall of last year.

Resnek and the Everett Leader Herald allegedly “knew that their stories were ‘fiction’ and ‘fabrication,’ and they have admitted as such,” based on Resnek’s deposition tesimonty, according to the amended lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court. They seek unspecified damages.

Resnek denied those characterizations of his testimony in his response filed with the court.

After buying the paper in 2017, the Philbins sicced Resnek on the mayor they dubbed “Kickback Carlo” for “the express purpose of trying to defeat the mayor,” according to the amended filing in Middlesex Superior Court.

Getty Images

They have not sacked Resnek and seemingly have their own ax to grind against the Democrat. When DeMaria was an alderman, he had voted against their request to renew licenses for boarding houses they wanted to build in the city with a population of 60,000.

DeMaria had said the buildings were slums that were rented out to “sh-tbags,” according to Boston Magazine.

The Post has sought comment from the Philbins, Resnek and DeMaria.

Resnek’s deposition is expected to be completed in the next few months.

The 73-year-old ink-stained veteran with stops at other Massachusetts weeklies and the Boston Herald, allegedly began to routinely run items alleging wrongdoing by DeMaria with the aim of weakening his public support in the run-up to the 2021 mayoral election, the lawsuit said.

Andrew Philbin
Facebook/Andrew Philbin

“Each week, 52 times a year, I invent the Leader Herald…The mayor is my enemy,” Resnek wrote to a colleague, according to an email described and attached to the lawsuit. “It takes me two days away from important writing every week to create this sh-t.”

Resnek’s alleged bogus coverage included a story published in September 2021 that quoted City Hall employee Sergio Cornelio as saying DeMaria demanded a $97,000 payment as part of a local development deal. If Cornelio refused, the mayor vowed to ruin his life, Resnek reported.

In August 2021, the Everett Leader Herald published a story alleging that DeMaria “has apparently paid hefty sums to several women who claimed sexual violence and abuse at his hands so that they should keep their mouths shut as reported in detail investigative reports by The Boston Globe.”

Resnek was reportedly outraged that DeMaria granted the gaming license to Wynn instead of Boston mogul and Everett native Joe O'Donnell (pictured).
Resnek was reportedly outraged that DeMaria granted the gaming license to Wynn instead of Boston mogul and Everett native Joe O’Donnell (pictured).

The Globe had published a story in 2014 under the headline: “Four women accuse Everett mayor of sexual harassment.”

DeMaria never faced any charges or lawsuits in the separate incidents. Resnek claimed there was a settlement with one of the women

In DeMaria’s lawsuit against Resnek and the Philbins, DeMaria’s attorneys allege the August 2021 story was “defamatory” and that Resnek allegedly admitted “he had never seen any purported settlements because they did not exist.”

Resnek also wrote a story in April 2020 alleging that DeMaria “put a knife to [the] throat” of a woman. When asked under oath if the story was a “fabrication,” Resnek replied: “Yes, sir,” according to the amended lawsuit.

Resnek allegedly admitted in a deposition that he was aware a magistrate had dismissed the claim “for lack of probable cause.”

Another tale is reserved for a book Resnek was pitching about DeMaria’s granting a gaming license to Wynn for a casino. Wynn opened the Encore Boston Harbor in Everett in 2019.

Resnek reportedly was outraged that DeMaria gave the license to Wynn instead of his friend, Everett native Joe O’Donnell, according to Boston Magazine.

The Encore Boston Harbor in Everett is a casino built by gaming mogul and real estate developer Steve Wynn.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a May 2019 email that Resnek reportedly sent to O’Donnell, the journalist wrote: “Remember Joe, this fat useless f–k so adored in your hometown, is not so unlike you and me.”

“He wants a cut of whatever he does with this money which is not his,” Resnek allegedly wrote in the email to O’Donnell. “Unlike you and me, he is an elected public official.”

A spokesperson for Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas told The Post: “Wynn Resorts has worked cooperatively with Mayor DeMaria and his administration to make Encore Boston Harbor a significant catalyst for economic development in the region.  Our interactions with the mayor have always been completely professional.”

The Post has sought comment from O’Donnell.

The stories written by Resnek did put a dent in voter support for DeMaria, who had been quite popular in Everett before the Philbins bought the Everett Leader Herald, according to Boston Magazine.

But despite the negative press, DeMaria eked out a sixth term in November 2021.