A former inspector for the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) pleaded guilty last week to extortion charges and received jail time for using his position of authority to extort money from an Everett business under his jurisdiction.
Arthur Hitchman, 41, of Melrose, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, Jan. 11th, in Middlesex Superior Court to charges of Attempted Extortion, Soliciting and Accepting a Corrupt Gift to Influence an Official Act, Solicitation to Commit the Receiving of Stolen Property, and Improper Storage of a Firearm (two counts).
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman sentenced the defendant to two and one half years in the House of Correction on the attempted extortion charge and two years probation from and after on the additional charges.
The case has gone on since 2010.
“This defendant has now admitted to taking advantage of his position of authority in order to grant a liquor license in exchange for personal gain,” Middlesex District Attorney Gerald Leone said. “This defendant’s criminal actions, which include extorting payment from a prospective licensee in exchange for a large amount of money, are in direct violation of the trust bestowed upon him. We commend the work of the Massachusetts State Police Special Service Section and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, who worked collectively on this case.”
According to authorities, the defendant contacted an individual who wanted to open a restaurant in Everett.
Hitchman, who had knowledge of the prospective business owner’s prior criminal conviction, indicated that because of that history the man might not be approved to receive a liquor license. However, Hitchman told the prospective business owner that he could secure approval for him if the man paid him $3,000 in cash.
On May 18, 2010, an undercover State Trooper, posing as a family member of the restaurant owner, met the defendant, confirmed the terms of his demand, and paid him $3,000 in cash.
The defendant accepted the money and told the trooper he would help secure approval of the license.
The investigation by Massachusetts State Police Special Service Section, Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, as well as attorneys from the Middlesex District Attorney’s PACT Unit, resulted in numerous conversations between Hitchman and the undercover trooper.
In these conversations, the defendant admitted that he had made changes to the affidavit filed by the restaurant owner in order to ensure the license would be approved by the ABCC.
Additionally, in the course of these conversations, the defendant, unprompted, offered to sell the undercover State Trooper illegal video poker machines worth more than one thousand dollars each, and suggested that the undercover State Trooper could use them to generate illegal revenues at the restaurant.
On July 13, 2010, a search warrant was executed at the defendant’s residence in Melrose and, during the search, State Troopers recovered two 9mm semi-automatic pistols, one of which was loaded. Neither pistol was secured in a locked container or had a safety device of any kind.
Hitchman was arrested and arraigned that afternoon in Malden District Court where he was held on $3,000 cash bail with the conditions that he is to have no firearms and must stay away from the victim.
A Middlesex Grand Jury indicted him more than a year ago, on September 23, 2010. He was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on October 8, 2010 where Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered the defendant held on $3,000 cash bail.
The ABCC has cooperated fully with the investigation.
The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Christopher Tarrant, a prosecutor in the MDAO’s PACT Unit. The Massachusetts State Police Special Service Section, the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, and attorneys from the Middlesex District Attorney’s PACT Unit, investigated this case.