Boston Democratic Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration and finance director faces charges relating to an alleged prison drug smuggling ring. Freda Brasfield was arraigned on Friday on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to Boston 25 News, Brasfield was accompanied by two of a large circle of co-defendants. Jaime Liberty and Jayleen Rivera are also charged with smuggling synthetic cannabis, normally called “K2” or “spice,” into state prison MCI-Shirley.
Brasfield pled not guilty, and was released along with her co-defendants on their own recognizance. She has served the city under multiple Democratic administrations and was chief diversity officer under former Mayor Marty Walsh.
In a written statement from a city spokesperson, it was announced that the municipality on Friday placed Brasfield on “unpaid administrative leave while the court case proceeds.”
BREAKING: Top Boston Finance Director Freda Brasfield indicted, charged w/money laundering in alleged scheme to get synthetic drugs into state prison system. We were only media at Superior Court. My exclusive story @Boston 25, 5 PM. pic.twitter.com/6Isqidq60q
— Bob Ward Boston 25 (@Bward3) February 10, 2023
Prosecutors charge that the extensive operation originated in Jan. 2021. They allege that four incarcerated individuals, one of which is Brasfield’s nephew, along with five others including Brasfield are involved.
According to the Boston Globe, prosecutors believe Brasfield used Cash App to transfer funds for the sale of illegal drugs at MCI-Shirley. Boston 25 reported that the mayor’s finance director “moved money in increments of $999 to avoid banking mandatory reporting limits of $1,000.”
Massachusetts prosecutors believe that former MCI-Shirley inmate Manuel “Junior” Dasilva worked with the ring of alleged conspirators to get the drugs into the facility.
The scourge of illegal drugs flooding prisons is hardly a new phenomenon, but this particular method is both highly profitable and difficult to intercept.
The synthetic pot is in liquid form and is sprayed onto a piece of paper. These 8” x 11” sheets are then cut into one-inch squares that sell for as much as $400 each behind bars. This means that one sheet of paper can fetch over $30,000 in the prison system.
Brasfield’s attorney, David Meier, called his client “an honorable and dedicated public servant and a deeply valued member of the community.” She is further described as a longtime Democratic political activist and community organizer.
The city listed among her roles being the Chair of the Black Employee Network. Her next court appearance is set for March.