Metro

Former Probation chief seeks acquittal in case

The motion comes as John O’Brien’s high-profile trial nears an end.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
The motion comes as John O’Brien’s high-profile trial nears an end.

Former probation commissioner John J. O’Brien is asking a judge to acquit him or to declare a mistrial or both.

In a filing this morning in federal court in Boston, O’Brien’s attorneys said that prosecutors “failed to prove each and every element of the charged offenses. The evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the government, is insufficient to permit a rational jury to find O’Brien guilty of any of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The motion says that the judge is expected to hear arguments and rule today.

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The motion comes as O’Brien’s high-profile trial nears an end, in a case that alleged a corrupt hiring scheme at the department he once led. Lawyers are slated to make closing arguments on Tuesday.

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Prosecutors charged O’Brien, the probation commissioner from 1998 to 2010, and top deputies Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III with running the department like a criminal enterprise, trading jobs for legislative favors, allegedly passing over more qualified candidates for the friends of legislators.

Defense attorneys say their clients did nothing illegal. But prosecutors allege they committed fraud by creating a bogus hiring system to make it look like they were complying with policies and procedures.

The defendants face up to 20 years in prison on charges including racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, and mail fraud.

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Special section: Patronage in the Probation Department