Former probation commissioner John O’Brien acquitted of conspiracy to commit bribery

Former Massachusetts Department of Probation commisisoner John J. O’Brien was found not guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy to commit bribery in the first of two court cases he faces spawning from his time leading the department.

A jury ruled that the evidence did not substantiate charges that O’Brien, who resigned in 2010, used his position to turn out department employees for a political fundraiser in exchange for a covetted Massachusetts Lottery Commission job for his wife.

“We are disappointed in this verdict, and believe the evidence showed that Commissioner O’Brien traded campaign contributions for a taxpayer-funded job for his wife,” said Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, in a statement. “While some may believe that this type of behavior is ‘business as usual,’ we did not and do not believe that should be the case.”

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Prosecutors alleged that O’Brien used his influence to turn out attendees for a political fund-raiser for then-treasurer Timothy Cahill in exchange for a job for his wife. The treasurer chairs the lottery commission. They accused O’Brien of working with four other state employees to hatch the plan to produce attendees for the fund-raiser in exchange for the job.

Two of those men — Edward Ryan and Fran Wall — were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against O’Brien, and defense attorneys maintained that both were testifying to scapegoat the former commisioner for their own illegal activities.

Lawyers for O’Brien could not be immediately reached for comment.

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