Three Indicted In Massachusetts Probation Hiring Scandal


Former Massachusetts Probation Commissioner John J. O’Brien and two of his top
former assistants have been charged in a federal indictment with “racketeering
conspiracy” for their role in setting up and running a sham hiring process that
systematically funneled jobs to politically connected candidates, the Boston
Globe reports. The indictment against O’Brien and his former deputy
commissioners Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke argues that 1,800-employee
Probation Department was run like a criminal enterprise, in which the trio
traded jobs to friends and allies of legislators “to aggrandize power to
themselves” and to increase the agency’s budget, among other things.

The indictment by a federal grand jury describes an elaborate phony hiring
process under which thousands of job candidates were interviewed even though
they had virtually no chance of geting the job because O’Brien and his deputies
had selected the winning candidates ahead of time. “This sham system was used by
the defendants and other members of the conspiracy to conceal the fact that the
hiring decisions were predetermined and not based upon merit, but based upon
the nature and extent of the sponsorship” by politicians, judges and other
powerful people, according to the indictment. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’
office investigated the agency after a devastating report by independent
counsel Paul Ware Jr. that found hiring practices were rigged in favor of
candidates with political connections. Ware’s 2010 report was the response by
the court system to a series by the Globe that detailed hundreds of politically
connected hires and promotions made by O’Brien and his top aides.

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