Nearly a month after a special counsel said he should be fired, John O'Brien still holds his title: Massachusetts commissioner of probation. The Boston Globe says that as the new year dawns, he will still be drawing his annual $130,000 salary after more than half a year on forced leave. While it might seem that independent counsel Paul Ware's findings that O'Brien engaged in “pervasive fraud'' in hiring would be grounds for termination, the state's Trial Court must follow elaborate due process rules before it can fire any employee.
O’Brien’s attorney, Paul Flavin, said O'Brien does not deserve to lose his job. Ware “used some sensationalist terms – corrupt, fraud, scheme; I don't follow it,'' said Flavin. “It's a hiring process that is systemic in state culture.'' The suspended commissioner will be able to appeal if he is fired, so it will be weeks, if not months, before his professional fate is decided. That procedure applies to three members of O'Brien's inner circle whom the Trial Court is also reviewing for punishment, including possible termination. Ware named more than 30 current and former probation officials who participated in fraudulent hiring, gave testimony that was not credible, or refused to testify, citing their rights against self-incrimination. Unlike private employers, who can dismiss people without explanation, the Trial Court can fire employees only for cause.