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Probation Trial Begins

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A federal judge has told a jury in the trial of three former Massachusetts probation department officials that political patronage by itself is not a crime. Former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien is charged along with former deputies Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke with rigging the agency’s hiring process to favor politically-connected applicants, often at the expense of more qualified candidates.

Judge William Young told jurors that getting a job based on who you know is not against the law. He said prosecutors will have to show that the defendants committed mail fraud and racketeering acts.

A list of possible trial witnesses reads like a who’s who of Massachusetts politics, including dozens of past and present state legislators, public officials and judges.

 

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