A new federal indictment charges embattled former probation commissioner John J. O’Brien with 17 counts of bribing state legislators by giving jobs to their supporters, friends, and relatives, crimes that carry up to 10 years in prison for each count.
The indictment, handed up Wednesday, alleged that O’Brien bribed Senate President Therese Murray at least three times by giving jobs to people she recommended. O’Brien allegedly bribed House Speaker Robert A DeLeo at least 10 times, according to the indictment, in part to help him as he began his successful campaign to become House speaker in 2009.
But despite months of speculation that prosecutors would target politicians, the legislators themselves were not charged in the indictment.
O’Brien and two top deputies, the indictment said, did “conspire, confederate, and agree to give jobs and salaries” to candidates promoted by state legislators “in order to influence those members of the Legislature” to boost the Probation Department’s budget and achieve other political goals.
O’Brien, who resigned in 2010 amid a patronage scandal that engulfed the agency, already faces federal racketeering charges along with the two top deputies, Elizabeth V. Tavares and William H. Burke III, in allegedly running a phony hiring system that gave jobs to people with political connections. However, he was recently acquitted of state bribery charges.
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