BOSTON (Reuters) - A former director of Massachusetts’ probation commission was found guilty on Thursday of running the agency as a corrupt political patronage operation, offering jobs in return for favors from state legislators.
A U.S. District Court jury found that former commissioner John O‘Brien and an aide were guilty of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud, while a third colleague was found guilty of conspiracy but cleared of charges of mail fraud and racketeering.
The jury deliberated for seven days at the conclusion of a trial that ran for more than two months and featured accusations that O‘Brien and his colleagues had exchanged favors with sitting state legislators including state House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who has angrily denied any wrongdoing and faced no criminal charges.
The jury found that O‘Brien went beyond political patronage in his hiring practices, aggressively using his ability to bestow jobs to increase his political clout and seek favors.
O‘Brien’s wife collapsed when the verdict was read and was taken from the courthouse in an ambulance, local media reported.
O‘Brien ran the state’s probation department, which supervises former prison inmates on release, from 1998 through 2010.
Former aide Elizabeth Tavares was also found guilty of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud while a third former official, William Burke was found guilty of conspiracy but not guilty of the other charges.
U.S. District Judge William Young set a Nov. 18 sentencing date. O‘Brien faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years for each of the 10 criminal counts on which he was found guilty.
Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Matthew Lewis