Attorney General Martha Coakley today said her office has launched an investigation into the state Probation Department in the wake of the findings by an independent counsel that found "pervasive fraud" in the way probation officers were hired.
Coakley's office today released a copy of a four paragraph letter she sent to Republican leaders on Beacon Hill, who had urged her recently to open an inquiry after the report by Paul F. Ware Jr., a study that was prompted by a series by the Boston Globe's Spotlight Team earlier this year.
"Your letter rightly states that the report details serious violations of the public trust,'' Coakley said in the letter. "Our office has already begun an investigation to determine the scope of the violations of state law.''
She added, "the report outlines a troubling and extensive scheme which lessened public confidence in the process of selecting probation officers and compromised public safety.''
Coakley also said in the letter that she has been in contact with US Attorney Carmen Ortiz's office.
"We are thoroughly reviewing the documents contained in Mr. Ware’s report. We have taken steps to ensure that evidence is preserved,'' she wrote.
"We have been in contact with the Office of the United States Attorney, and my office is tasking a team of prosecutors and investigators who will aggressively pursue this matter,'' the letter states.
Coakley's letter can be found here.
Coakley's public declaration that the state's top law enforcement officer is now examining the details of the Ware Report comes three days after House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo distanced himself from Representative Thomas M.Petrolati, who has been the number three lawmaker in the House for the past several years.
Petrolati, a Ludlow Democrat, declined to answer questions under oath when Ware sought to ask him about his involvement in hiring decisions by the Probation Department leadership. DeLeo announced Tuesday that Petrolati will not seek the same leadership position in the next legislative session.
The Ware Report concluded that top Probation Department employees engaged in “pervasive fraud’’ by setting up a phony hiring and promotion process to conceal the fact that the employees were systematically giving jobs to people with personal or political connections to politicians and court officials.
Ware conducted his investigation at the request of the Supreme Judicial Court, which oversees the court system, including the Probation Department.
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