A former Boston real estate official was sentenced to 40 months in prison for tax evasion and taking a bribe from a developer to influence a zoning board of appeals decision.

At a 30-minute hearing in U.S. District Court in Boston, Judge Patti Saris said she was puzzled why the 67-year-old John Lynch risked his career and reputation in the corruption case.

“I suppose you don’t think you’re going to get caught, but I kept searching in the sentencing report for the why,” she said.

Lynch pled guilty in September to accepting $50,000 from a developer to influence a zoning board member’s vote on a permit extension for a condo project. Neither the developer nor the board member have been identified by prosecutors or charged.

Prosecutor Dustin Chao said Lynch’s actions did not appear to be impulsive. Lynch instructed the developer to issue a blank check to redirect the payment through a contractor doing a home improvement project for him, and mischaracterized the transaction on his tax returns, Chao said.

“The bribes were taken with the ease of a career criminal,” he said. “The crimes were not committed in an instant,” Chao said.

Defense attorney Hank Brennan cited continuing support from family and community members as reflected in letters of support to the court and more than 30 people attending Friday’s hearing.

“I respectfully disagree that this is a career criminal. It was one regrettable event: one,” Brennan said.

Lynch rose briefly to apologize to his family “for the shame brought upon them and the citizens of Boston who trusted me.”

The scandal prompted Mayor Marty Walsh to order a review of the zoning board of appeals and a call from City Councilor Michelle Wu for drastic changes in Boston’s real estate permitting system, including abolition of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

Lynch resigned in August from his role as assistant director of real estate for the Economic Development Industrial Corp., which manages properties owned by the BPDA. He previously worked for 20 years at the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development.

In September, ZBA member and real estate industry appointee Craig Galvin resigned and former head of inspectional services William “Buddy” Christopher took a leave of absence from his most recent role as adviser to Walsh on the so-called “Methadone Mile” drug corridor in South End.

The charges against Lynch included failure to report $60,000 on his 2018 tax returns, including $10,000 that he took from the same developer in exchange for assistance in the same of another property, according to prosecutors.

The case has damaged the public’s trust in how development is regulated in Boston, prosecutors stated last week in a court filing asking for a 48-month prison term for Lynch.

Lynch sought a 30-month sentence, citing his community service and lack of a criminal record.

Lynch Gets 40-Month Sentence in City Hall Bribery Case

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min