John J. O’Brien, former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Probation, was found not guilty Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court of multiple counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, a victory that his lawyers hope to replicate in his upcoming federal trial on racketeering charges.
O’Brien spent 12 years at the helm of the state Probation Department before resigning in 2010, amid accusations of unfair hiring practices and corruption brought to light by a Globe Spotlight Team investigation.
Prior to his resignation, O’Brien was considered a powerful state official, holding near-complete control of the state Probation Department and its hiring and firing.
But jurors ruled Tuesday that O’Brien did not misuse that power to secure his wife, Laurie, a new job at the state Lottery Commission, where she was hired in 2005 and continues to work.
A date has not been set for O’Brien’s federal trial, in which he faces charges of racketeering and mail fraud that carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
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