STATE SEN. DEAN TRAN has created a legal defense fund as he faces both a campaign finance-related investigation and an unrelated criminal investigation.
On March 26, the Massachusetts Senate stripped Tran, a Fitchburg Republican, of his leadership position after an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee found that Tran had used his taxpayer-funded Senate staff to regularly conduct campaign activities, including fundraising.
The Senate Ethics Committee noted in its public report that it was recommending referring a different allegation, relating to a budget amendment that Tran filed, to the State Ethics Commission and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Tran created the fund with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance April 6.
Separately, CommonWealth learned that the Fitchburg police and the Massachusetts attorney general’s office are conducting an investigation involving Tran.
The Fitchburg Police Department denied a public records request for any complaints filed against Tran since 2016 under an exemption that allows the police to withhold investigatory material. Captain Steven Giannini, technical services commander for the Fitchburg police, said in an email that one record exists, but he was denying the request because “this case is still OPEN and under investigation by the Fitchburg Police Department as well as the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. Releasing the requested information could jeopardize the continued investigation and potential prosecution of these charges as well as the confidentiality of persons involved with the case.”
Neither Giannini nor a spokeswoman for Attorney General Maura Healey would confirm the nature of the investigation.
Multiple people, including the alleged victim, said the allegation stems from a murky dispute involving Tran, an elderly Fitchburg woman, and various members of her family related to guns belonging to the woman’s late husband. Tran’s exact role in the dispute is unclear; he denies any wrongdoing and there have been no charges filed. The incident dates to June 2019.
Tran recently hired attorney Simon Cataldo of the Ashcroft Law Firm, a former US prosecutor. Cataldo said in a statement that Tran formed the legal defense fund in accordance with OCPF rules after the release of the Senate Ethics report “in order to obtain legal services should any be required.”
Cataldo said Tran has not been contacted regarding the campaign finance investigation by either OCPF or the State Ethics Committee. “Senator Tran intends to cooperate with any impartial inquiry by either office, should there ever be one,” Cataldo said. “He is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct, as he has done throughout his 15-year career as an elected public servant.”
Cataldo’s statement did not address the criminal investigation, but Tran previously told CommonWealth, “The allegation is false, and the truth will come out.”