A federal judge denied Monday a request by John J. O’Brien, the former state probation commissioner, for appointment of two specific lawyers to represent him at government expense.
The judge left the door open, however, to using taxpayer dollars for his defense, according to court documents.
The charges against O’Brien and against Elizabeth V. Tavares and William H. Burke III, former state Probation Department officials, include racketeering conspiracy and mail fraud. O’Brien and the others are accused of running a rigged hiring and promotional system that rewarded those with political connections.
US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced criminal indictments against the three on March 23.
In April, O’Brien submitted a motion asking US Magistrate Judge Timothy Hillman to approve the use of public funds to pay for Paul Flavin of Milton, his longtime lawyer who has represented him in state hearings, and Anthony M. Traini of Providence, whom Flavin wanted on his team because of Traini’s expertise in federal white-collar crime cases. Neither lawyer is on an approved list of federal defenders.
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