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Prosecutors Face Challenges Proving Lawmakers Practiced Patronage

BOSTON — The Probation scandal is spreading. Now a federal grand jury is investigating allegations of corruption and nepotism at the agency. Charges of fraud, extortion and conspiracy could ensue.

Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts is insisting that Probation officials preserve all documents that could be used in its criminal probe.

“The challenge for the prosecutors, particularly the federal prosecutors, will be to see whether they can tie up the patronage — including the patronage that Paul Ware identified — with something specific that was given, something of value that was given to one or more people in the Probation Department, because of the patronage,” says Donald Stern, former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts from 1993 through 2001.

Stern joined WBUR’s Bob Oakes on Wednesday’s Morning Edition and discusses the issue of patronage and the challenges prosecutors face in proving that lawmakers were involved in corrupt hiring practices in the Probation Department.

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