Former 'Big Dig' exec sentenced to six months for tax evasion

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Friday, February 06, 2015

A U.S. District Court judge on Thursday sentenced James Kerasiotes, a former director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and head of Boston’s “Big Dig” tunnel project, to spend six months in prison for filing false tax returns in 2010 and 2011 when he worked as an independent transportation consultant.

Kerasiotes was indicted in July 2014 and pleaded guilty in September 2014.

It was during his time as an independent transportation consultant, and not when he was chairman, that the illegal tax filings took place. U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz said Kerasiotes underreported his income in 2010 and 2011 by about $100,000.

He faced a possible three-year prison term, but the judge in the case decided on six months. In addition to prison time, Kerasiotes must pay $31,448 in restitution to the IRS and a $5,000 fine.

Kerasiotes was director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority in the 1990s and was also the state secretary of transportation from 1992 to 1998.

As director, Kerasiotes oversaw the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, more commonly known as the Big Dig, which was built to carry a 3.5-mile portion of Interstate 93 underneath Boston. 

Contractors broke ground in 1991 on a project estimated to cost under $3 billion. Cost overruns and other problems led to a decision by then-Gov. Paul Celluci to fire Kerasiotes in 2000. An audit revealed that Kerasiotes had been trying to hide the cost overruns.

The Big Dig was eventually completed in 2007, having cost more than $14.6 billion. Officials now estimate the eventual project cost at $22 billion by the time interest is paid off in 2038.

See related story:
Former ‘Big Dig’ manager charged with tax fraud

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