Crime and Corruption: The Albano Years – The Rise and Fall of Frank Keough
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Ten years ago was a bad time for the city of Springfield and disgraced Mayor Michael J. Albano. Not only was the city in tough financial shape as a result of sloppy management and corruption, but some of the people in key leadership positions, many of them appointed by Albano, were the focus of a full blown federal corruption investigation.
Francis Keough was one of those people.
In the 1980’s, Frank Keough was a rising star in Springfield politics. The former college football standout was an aide to Mayor Theodore Dimauro. He was elected to the City Council in his mid-twenties.
Keough went on to serve five terms and was even the Council President. Then Keogh ran into some major legal trouble. In 1992, he was indicted on tax evasion charges. He resigned from the council the next year, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor tax count.
But Keough landed on his feet, appointed to the $95,000 a year job as director of the Friends of the Homeless shelter in Springfield, even though he had no experience working with the homeless or in shelters.
Fast forward to early 2005, Keough is led away from the shelter in handcuffs, indicted on federal corruption charges, and was fired as shelter director in mid-2005.
In January of 2007, Keough was sentenced to three years in federal prison, after pleading guilty to creating a no-show job scheme at the shelter, using public employees to build his vacation home in Rhode Island, furnishing that home with TVs and mattresses from the shelter and extorting a shelter contractor for $29,000 for materials to build his house.
He was also ordered to pay $145,000 in restitution and serve three years probation after his release. The government seized the Rhode Island house and auctioned it off as part of his plea.
But Keough’s problems were far from over. Now out of prison and on probation, Keough was arrested in November 2009 when federal officials say he was loading a dining room set into a pick-up truck at his former vacation home in Rhode Island. The following January, federal district court judge Michael Ponsor sent Keough back to prison for four months. At that sentencing, Assistant US attorney Steven Breslow said that in spite of being an unemployed, convicted felon, Keough still operates with flat out arrogance.
Keough pretty much stayed under the radar until last year.
The Springfield City Council was considering a proposal by Lamar Central Outdoor to locate two giant digital billboards along Interstate 91.
Patrick Keough, Frank’s brother, is Lamar’s real estate developer manager.
One of the proposals backers was new Hampden County Clerk of Courts Laura Gentile. In 2012, Frank Keough reportedly identified himself as a campaign consultant to Gentile.
Gentile denies that Keough worked on her campaign, adding that the Keough family had nothing to do with her support of the digital billboards.
However, that did not stop Louisiana-based Lamar from hiring Keough to get those billboard permits approved.
That bet proved unsuccessful for Lamar and the permits were denied by the City Council.
Keough continues behind the scenes in city government as an advisor and consultant.
Keough declined comment for this story.