State rep’s brother ordered to pay nearly $1 million
(FOX25 / MyFoxBoston) Mike Beaudet
(FOX25 / MyFoxBoston) Kevin Rothstein, Producer
A bar partly-owned by a state Rep. Michael Moran is now closed and the lawmaker's brother and business partner is paying nearly $1 million to settle claims that a disabled relative was financially abused.
Moran, a Brighton Democrat who is part of the House Speaker's leadership team, is also part-owner of 21 Nickels Bar and Grille, a Watertown pub that evidence shows was supported with the help of money his brother allegedly stole from a disabled relative.
Rep. Moran ended an interview with FOX Undercover last year by staring down our camera, not wanting to be recorded walking into his office. But there's no walking away from the uncomfortable position his brother put him.
"Do you think that stolen money was used to buy that bar?" FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked him.
"I know that stolen money wasn't used to buy any bar," Moran replied.
"How do you know that?" Beaudet asked.
"Because I purchased the bar 12 years ago," Moran replied.
That answer doesn't hold up because Rep. Moran, his brother Shaun, and other investors bought 21 Nickels in 2000, two years after the alleged thefts occurred.
The Moran brothers each put down $30,000 cash to buy the bar, records show.
"That's a lot of cash though," Beaudet asked Moran in last year's interview.
"I was 30 years old, it was my savings at the time," Moran replied. "His money… he was very successful, he was a pipe fitter, he has property and things of that nature, so it wasn't a real stretch to think he could come up with his portion of the bar."
Shaun Moran and his wife, Paula, were accused in criminal and civil complaints of stealing cash and equity from Paula's uncle, Robert Ryan. Ryan worked as a laborer for the City of Newton until retiring, but his disability prevents him from being able to read, write, or take care of his finances.
According to court complaints, his disability opened the door for Shaun and Paula Moran to help themselves to his cash and equity.
The Middlesex District Attorney's office dropped the criminal charges in part because a key witness wouldn't cooperate. But the civil lawsuit went to trial.
A few days of testimony offered what a judge later wrote was "disturbing and credible evidence of such deceit." The Morans settled before the trial was over, agreeing to give Ryan $865,000 in cash and equity.
Ryan spoke to FOX Undercover after the settlement.
"I put my trust into them, into Paula and Shaun and the trust was very hard, it hurts me when I think of that, somebody would take advantage of me," he said.
"What would you say to the Morans?" Beaudet asked.
"I'd have to say, ‘why?' I never did anything to them, took care of, babysat their kids, took their kids to the park. I helped around the yard, cutting grass shoveling snow," he replied. "So it's just, ‘why?' I think that's a question I'll be asking for the rest of my life because I don't think they can give me an answer."
No answer from Shaun or Paula Moran, either, whose attorney didn't respond to FOX Undercover's requests for comments. We sent a list of questions to Rep. Moran, but his only response was a statement: "This is a private, personal matter involving my brother and his family. I have no further comment."
One of the questions not answered was whether the settlement had anything to do with the decision to close 21 Nickels. Watertown licensing officials will be holding a hearing soon where the possible sale of the liquor license is up for discussion.
Shaun and Paula Moran aren't quite out of the woods yet. In a decision released last week, the judge ordered them to pay an additional $111,271 in interest and attorney's fees because they breached the settlement agreement by funding it past the deadline.