A retired Probation Department supervisor on Wednesday became the first witness in the trial of former commissioner John J. O’Brien to describe in full detail the alleged scheme to manipulate the department’s hiring process, saying that the supervisor and others regularly embellished scores to appoint the friends and family members of state legislators.
Francis Wall, a retired deputy commissioner, described for more than four hours how O’Brien and state legislators wrested control of Probation Department hiring from judges and then covered up the hiring of politically connected job candidates.
“We would change scores, we would embellish, to make sure we did everything we can to make sure they were the number one candidate,” Wall testified Wednesday.
Some of the legislators who recommended job candidates were House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and his predecessors Salvatore F. DiMasi and Thomas M. Finneran, as well as Senate President Therese Murray, and jobs were prioritized for the hierarchy of the Legislature, Wall said.
“The commissioner needed to have a good rapport with the legislators,” Wall told jurors. “In order to do that, we needed to secure their recommendations for particular jobs. . . . We were the beneficiary of better budgets because of that.”
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