John J. O'Brien, the disgraced former Massachusetts probation commissioner accused of corruption, was convicted yesterday in a sweeping verdict that found he ran the department like a criminal enterprise, handing out jobs to the politically powerful for his own personal benefit, the Boston Globe reports. His top aide, Elizabeth Tavares, 57, was convicted of aiding and abetting the scheme, and a deputy, William Burke III, 71, was found guilty of participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for 51 horurs over seven days before reaching the verdict, which one jurors said should serve as a “wake-up” to the state government. “After weeks of testimony, it became clear there was serious corruption in the practices of the Probation Department,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. O'Brien, 57, appeared to be trembling as the verdict was read. The defendants will appeal. One juror said the panel found political patronage was widespread in government, and that it occurred before O'Brien's tenure. He said O'Brien committed a crime, however, by violating hiring procedures.