In 1975, McLaughlin was investigated by the Middlesex District Attorney’s office for allegedly pressuring Billerica businesses into making campaign contributions while he was a state representative. The case was eventually dismissed.
In 1978, McLaughlin was called to testify before a grand jury on a county commissioner’s office job-selling scandal in which a former McLaughlin aide was later convicted.
Repeatedly pleading the Fifth Amendment, McLaughlin refused to answer questions about his relationship with his aides and his approval of two courthouse janitor jobs for relatives of high-ranking Boston Mafiosi, including the nephew of former Boston Mafia boss Gennaro Angiulo.
In 1980, McLaughlin was investigated by the state Attorney General for allegedly packing the Middlesex County ballot with straw candidates to increase his changes of winning. McLaughlin denied the allegations and the investigation was later dropped.
In 1987, authorities tape-recorded at least nine conversations between McLaughlin and reputed mobster John R. “Jackie” McDermott, a bookmaker whose phone was wire-tapped as part of a state police and FBI investigation into organized crime in Lowell.
McLaughlin, who was working as Lowell housing director but was in the running for city manager, allegedly asked McDermott to pressure city councilors into picking him for the job.
Stories about the “Bookie Tapes” later made headlines in the Boston media.
McLaughlin, passed over for the Lowell manager job, was never charged with wrongdoing for his involvement with McDermott, who was murdered in Lowell in 1988.