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Mass. Officer Convicted of Money Laundering and Fraud in Land Deal

The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A suspended police officer and a former city worker were convicted Friday of money laundering and fraud charges tied to a corrupt land deal.

A federal jury deliberated for parts of four days before reaching the guilty verdicts against Chester Ardolino and Michael Hutchison, who were accused of buying a dilapidated house, illegally inflated its value and selling it to unsuspecting buyers. Prosecutors say they made about $18,000.

Each was convicted of seven counts of money laundering and wire and mail fraud.

Hutchison, who was sentenced to probation last year after being convicted of insurance fraud, faces up to 16 months in prison when he is sentenced on March 17.

Investigators began building their case against Hutchison and Ardolino during the FBI's long-running probe into city corruption. Ardolino has been suspended without pay from the police department; Hutchison was fired from his job a city-run job training center.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Welch said the scheme was concocted in the City Hall office of Ardolino's brother, Anthony, the former chief of staff to former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano.

Roy Anderson, Ardolino's lawyer, said he was surprised the case warranted a trial in federal court.

"There is a large number of land flips that have occurred in this county," he said. "And these are the only set of purchasers who have been prosecuted at this level."

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