Congressman John Tierney denied once again last Friday that he knew anything about his in-laws' illegal gambling operation and said his convicted brother-in-law, Daniel Eremian, was "angry" and "lashing out" when he told The Salem News on Thursday that the congressman "knew everything."
"His comments are totally inconsistent and totally bizarre," Tierney said in an interview. "He professed his innocence to everyone (in court) minutes before and then said I knew everything illegal he was doing."
Under the state's redistricting plan, Tierney would represent part of Andover for the first time if reelected.
Eremian made his comments outside a Boston courtroom moments after he was sentenced to three years in prison for his part in a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling operation in Antigua run by his older brother, Robert Eremian.
Along with calling Tierney "the biggest liar in the world," Eremian said Tierney had sat next to bookies at Fenway Park and that his claims of ignorance about the family business were "hogwash."
Tierney said he was caught off guard by Eremian's comments.
"I was incredulous," he said. "Where the hell is this coming from? I don't know why he would inflict all this pain on his sister."
Eremian's sister is Tierney's wife, Patrice, who was sentenced to 30 days in prison in 2011 after pleading guilty to helping her brother Robert Eremian file fraudulent tax returns in connection with the offshore gambling operation.
Patrice Tierney managed a bank account for her brother, through which some $7 million flowed, which she used to pay his taxes, maintain his property, and support his wife and children. She also received $223,000 in what she described as "gifts" from her brother.
John Tierney said he believed Robert Eremian's offshore betting company, called Sports Off Shore, was legal and cited the fact that a judge allowed him to return to Antigua to work for the company in 2002, after he had been convicted of tax evasion.
A federal judge, an Antiguan immigration officer and the U.S. Attorney's Office all signed off on Robert Eremian's return to Antigua to continue work at Sports Off Shore. Because of that, Tierney said he and his wife had no reason to question the legality of the enterprise there.
In court, Patrice Tierney admitted that she should have asked more questions about the nature of the business and acknowledged being "willfully blind."
The court "believed she should have known," John Tierney said Friday, June 29.
Should he have known, too?
"Obviously, if there is a court order allowing Robert Eremian to go down there, they believed it was legal. A judge signed off on it, a probation supervisor thought it was appropriate, and so I think it is perfectly reasonable for someone to assume it was a legitimate source of income," Tierney said.
"People can disagree if they want to disagree. But if a judge and a probation supervisor don't think it's unreasonable, why would I think it was?"
Tierney said he learned about the bank account his wife was managing "sometime shortly after the court order" that allowed Robert Eremian to go back to Antigua. Tierney said he never questioned whether the money was legitimate.
Jesse Roman writes for the Townsman's sister paper, the Salem News.