• Fmr. probation head claims patronage part of Beacon Hill fabric


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – A late-night court filing by former State Probation Chief John O'Brien's lawyers lists the names of other high-ranking politicians they say participated in patronage hires.

    The filing contends the Mass. Trial Court had a list of job candidates recommended by top political officials, prosecutors and judges.

    Among the names, former Mass. House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Mass. Sen. President Therese Murray, former District Attorney William Keating and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.

    Also on the list and already linked to scandals are former Mass. Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and former Boston city councilor Chuck Turner. Wilkerson and Turner have both served jail time on corruption charges.

    O'Brien is facing charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery, bribery conspiracy and mail fraud. Prosecutors accuse O'Brien of participating in a scheme to win support of politicians in charge of his budget by hiring and promoting other probation officers.

    His attorneys said they don't believe there is anything wrong with what O'Brien did and that prosecutors are withholding documents that suggest probation hiring practices were consistent with hiring practices of other departments. They say sponsor lists were standard operating procedure.

    Larry DiCara, an attorney for Nixon Peabody who was also a Boston City Council member for nine years, said, "I think it's a great defense because it shows how universal the practice has been at least in the 40-plus years I've been around public life."

    He went on to say, "I think that people in public life will try to help out their friends, that's human nature."

    O'Brien's trial is scheduled to begin in February.

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