SALEM — After his wife pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns last fall, Congressman John Tierney said she had been "deceived" by her brother about the true nature of his work on the island of Antigua, where prosecutors say he ran an illegal, offshore betting operation.
But yesterday, Patrice Tierney appeared to contradict that assertion, as she faced three hours of questioning about her handling of $5 million that passed through bank accounts held jointly by her and brother, Robert Eremian.
"Are you telling his jury, under oath, that your brother is still a gambling consultant?" prosecutor Fred Wyshak asked.
"Yes," Tierney responded.
Her lawyer, citing spousal privilege, cut off a line of questioning from a federal prosecutor about whether she had discussed with her congressman husband what, if anything, he had noticed during two visits to Robert Eremian's home.
It's her other brother, Daniel Eremian, and Todd Lyons, a Beverly man who allegedly worked for Sports Off Shore, who are on trial in U.S. District Court in Boston, where Patrice Tierney, 60, took the stand yesterday as a witness for the prosecution.
But most of the questions yesterday concerned Robert Eremian, currently a fugitive believed to be living in Antigua, which won't extradite him to the United States to face charges.
Tierney was accompanied to court by her lawyer, Donald Stern; her spokeswoman, Jennifer Flagg; and a family friend who was not identified. John Tierney, a Salem Democrat, was not in court.
Patrice Tierney, who spent a month in jail and is on probation, acknowledged yesterday that between 2004 and last year she took approximately $223,000 in what she described as "gifts" from Robert Eremian and her mother, Mary, who lived off money Robert Eremian supplied to her.
At the time, Tierney had been managing the money her brother sent to support his estranged wife, their children and his mother.