WBUR

O’Brien Judge Splits Probation Case Into Two

BOSTON — Former Massachusetts probation Commissioner John O’Brien faces two trials for alleged corruption in the hiring and promotion of probation officers.

“This is the most complex case I’ve faced in 35 years,” Judge William Young told the court on Friday. He ordered charges against O’Brien and two other defendants to be split into two trials, and to be heard by separate juries.

O’Brien faces 30 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud and bribery.

Judge Young told lawyers that O’Brien has an obligation to prevent confusion among potential jurors and to avoid a possible mistrial.

The government unsuccessfully argued that the two trials would involve the same evidence and the same witnesses.

The first trial, involving the counts of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud, begins May 5.

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