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Former State Senator Indicted Using State Employees on Campaign

By Tom Marino | September 29, 2023
Last Updated: September 29, 2023

BOSTON – Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell announced today that a Suffolk County Grand Jury has handed down an indictment of former State Senator Dean Tran for two counts of violating state ethics laws.

Tran, 47, of Fitchburg, faces two counts of Use of Official Position to Secure an Unwarranted Privilege. The indictment alleges Tran used his State Senate staff to campaign on state time and payroll.

The Attorney General’s office did not announce an arraignment date.

In 2020, the Senate Committee on Ethics found Tran inappropriately used his senate staff for campaign activities. The matter was referred to the Attorney General’s office by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance following the report by the Committee on Ethics. Tran was stripped of his status as Minority Whip in the senate as a result of the Committee on Ethics report.

The Attorney General’s office alleges that during campaigns in 2018 and 2020, Tran’s senate staff were on state payroll time while organizing fundraisers, knocking doors, and crafting campaign mailers, along with other duties. Staff members engaged in these activities while at the MassGOP campaign regional office in Fitchburg.

Massachusetts conflict of interest laws prohibit state, county, and municipal public employees from using using public resources in connection with political campaigns or other private political activity. This includes engaging in political activity on public work time.

In June 2022 Tran was charged with allegedly stealing a firearm from an elderly woman and misleading investigators about the incident. He was charged with Larceny of a Firearm, Larceny Over $250 from Person 60 or older, Filing an Application for a License to Carry Containing False Information. Obtaining a Signature by False Pretenses with Intent to Defraud, Misleading a Police Investigation, and Stealing by Confining or Putting in Fear. Tran pleaded not guilty and in July filed a lawsuit against then-Attorney General, now Governor Maura Healey.

Tran was first elected to represent the Massachusetts State Senate Worcester and Middlesex District in a special election in 2017 after the resignation of Jennifer Flanagan, who joined the Cannabis Control Commission. Tran was unopposed in the Republican primary and won the general election with 46.5 percent of the vote (7,290) in a race with multiple candidates. The Democratic nominee, Susan Chalifoux Zephir earned 42.1 percent of the vote (6,614).

The two rematched in the regularly scheduled election in 2018, with Tran winning again 54.3 percent (33,199) to Zephir’s 45.7 percent (27,935).

In the 2020 election, Democrat John Cronin earned 50.9 percent (42,188) to Tran’s 49 percent (40,588).

Tran ran for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Third Massachusetts District in 2022 and was defeated by incumbent Lori Trahan with 63.5 percent (154,496) to 36.4 percent (88,585).

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