Ronald Corbett Jr. stepping down as acting probation commissioner in January

Acting Commissioner of Probation Ronald P. Corbett Jr., who took control of the state probation system in the wake of a job-rigging scandal that led to criminal charges against top probation officials, will leave office next year, the court system announced today.

He was appointed to a two-year term that expires next January and has decided not to seek a new term in office, officials said.

According to the statement issued by Trial Court Chief Justice Robert A. Mulligan and Court Administrator Harry Spence, Corbett has worked for the courts for 39 years and now wants to devote time to his family and to teaching and research.

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“Ron Corbett has provided the judicial system with many years of extraordinary service in Probation and as the executive director of the Supreme Judicial Court,’’ Mulligan said in a statement.

He added, “we greatly appreciate his willingness to step in during the past two challenging years as he worked swiftly and effectively to restore integrity and service quality to the state’s Probation Service.”

Mulligan appointed Corbett to run the department in January 2011 to replace John J. O’Brien, who resigned on Dec. 31, 2010, amid charges that O’Brien had built a fraudulent hiring and promotion system at the 2,200-employee government agency.

When Corbett was named by Mulligan, the Globe reported that he was considered a front-runner for the commissioner’s job that went to O’Brien in late 1997.

That year, Corbett was named probation executive of the year by the National Association of Probation Executives, and he was editing the journal of the American Probation and Parole Association.

He is a Harvard graduate with a doctoral degree from the University of Massachusetts. But Mulligan’s predecessor, John J. Irwin Jr., reduced the education requirements for the job, helping to clear the way for O’Brien’s selection, the Globe has reported.

O’Brien and two codefendants are accused in US District Court of racketeering conspiracy and mail fraud for allegedly running a rigged hiring and promotional system in the probation department that rewarded those with political connections. They were indicted in March.

O’Brien and the others have all pleaded not guilty.