A key prosecution witness in the federal corruption trial of former state probation chief John J. O’Brien was ridiculed by defense lawyers Thursday as a “serial embellisher” with an academic degree in “BS” who took advantage of the same type of patronage hiring he now says was illegal.
Francis Wall, who retired as a deputy commissioner in the Probation Department in 2011, testified for prosecutors this week that he was part of a leadership team that ran a rigged hiring process and embellished job candidates’ scores to benefit the friends and family members of state legislators. Wall testified that he participated in the patronage hiring process out of loyalty to O’Brien.
Defense lawyers — playing on Wall’s repeated use of the word embellish, a word used by prosecutors throughout the trial — argued that Wall himself was the “embellisher” and has admitted to lying under oath before.
“You raised your hands and swore to tell the truth,” attorney Brad Bailey told Wall, who faced cross-examination Thursday, on the 18th day of testimony in the trial.
Lawyers for O’Brien and two codefendants pointed out that Wall had listed former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi as a reference when Wall sought past job promotions. In earlier testimony, Wall said that job candidates for the Probation Department who were recommended by legislators were inappropriately prioritized.
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