SPRINGFIELD -- A former police commissioner was found guilty yesterday of stealing thousands of dollars from a city-run job training school he once directed, giving federal authorities another victory in their ongoing corruption probe in the state's third-largest city.
Gerald Phillips, 50, was convicted of conspiracy and fraud but acquitted of threatening a witness who testified against him. His attorney, David Hoose, said he would probably appeal.
The verdicts in US District Court came five weeks after prosecutors put Phillips and three other former employees from the Massachusetts Career Development Institute on trial for charges that they schemed to steal money from the agency and then sought to cover their tracks.
Phillips's codefendants -- Giuseppe Polimeni, Luisa Cardaropoli, and Jamie Dwyer -- were also convicted of pulling off the scam and covering it up.
The jury had deliberated for about 17 hours over three days before reaching the verdicts.
The four face maximum prison sentences ranging from 25 to 90 years, but federal sentences -- ranging from probation to incarceration -- could be adjusted by a judge who must weigh a variety of factors.
A sentencing date was not immediately set by US District Judge Michael Ponsor.
The charges in the MCDI case stem from a public corruption probe that federal investigators launched in Springfield about four years ago. Prosecutors have so far won more than 20 convictions in several trials.
''The jury knew there was a fraud and a coverup going on at MCDI," said Assistant US Attorney William Welch.
Testimony during the trial touched on some lurid allegations that Phillips set up no-show jobs for some MCDI students in exchange for sex. Phillips was never charged with any sex crimes; the basis of the case was that he and the other defendants conspired to defraud the government of money, largely by submitting phony time sheets.
Lawyers for all four defendants said their clients never stole any money from MCDI, which offers job training classes to mostly low-income students.
Prosecutors painted a different picture of four cronies who bilked the agency out of nearly $50,000 and lied about doing anything wrong.