Coakley Indicts 2 On State Job-Rigging

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In what's become the year of political scandal on Beacon Hill, the conviction of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi in federal court has given way to the fall lineup of state corruption charges against another set of political figures.

On Monday, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a set of indictments against the former commissioner of the Probation Department and the chief of staff to the former state treasurer.

The indictment of John "Jack" O'Brien will come as no surprise. The former Probation commissioner resigned on New Year's Eve, before he could be fired as the head of a department that an independent counsel called a cesspool of fraud and "systemic corruption."

But Monday's biggest indictment charged O'Brien with job-rigging not at Probation, but at the treasurer's office. And the alleged objective of a criminal conspiracy was to get O'Brien's wife a job. According to the indictment, in 2005, O'Brien approached Scott Campbell, chief of staff for then-Treasurer Timothy Cahill. He raised the possibility of Laurie O'Brien getting a job at the Lottery.

"We allege in these indictments that Campbell responded in these discussions that Treasurer Cahill was interested in a fundraiser and Campbell wondered if the commissioner would be involved in or wanted to be involved in such a fundraiser," Coakley said.

In June 2005, O'Brien hosted a fundraiser in which he raised $11,000 for Cahill, who hired Laurie O'Brien a few months later, in September. It was a case, says the indictment, of quid pro quo.

If Cahill himself is in the headlights, the attorney general wouldn't say.

"This is only the beginning of the investigation, not the end of it," Coakley said.

A separate indictment, also unsealed Monday, charges that O'Brien made a false report regarding the promotion of a probation officer in 2005. O'Brien certified that the proper protocol had been followed.

"However, we allege in this indictment that a decision about who was going be promoted to the position had already been made based upon an outside request for that promotion," Coakley said.

If true, here was the practice of job-rigging for political patrons in the Legislature that special counsel Paul Ware had detailed in his scathing report last year.

In this case, the request had come from then-Speaker DiMasi, recently convicted of corruption in a federal court.

So, is DiMasi in the headlights of this investigation as well? No comment on that question from the attorney general — on a day in which state departments and former officials were intersecting in scandal.

Also, no response from O'Brien or Campbell. An attorney for Cahill said, "There is no credible evidence to support the allegations" of a quid pro quo involving Laurie O'Brien's job.

This program aired on September 20, 2011.

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David Boeri Senior Reporter
Now retired, David Boeri was a senior reporter at WBUR.



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