Patronage in the Probation Dept.
A Globe Spotlight Team report on corrupt hiring and promotion practices within the Massachusetts Probation Department, and coverage of the investigation of the agency that followed the stories.
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Explore the conclusions and sworn testimony of key witnesses in the independent counsel's report of the Probation Department.
More than 250 employees of the department are personally connected to officials, or gave at least $500 to state legislators, an analysis found.
Rep. Thomas M. Petrolati represents a small area of the state, but he attracts tens of thousands of dollars in political donations from probation officers.
A six-month investigation found that the state's Probation Department employs at least 250 friends, relatives, and financial backers of politicians and top court officials.
Read the report
Independent counsel Paul F. Ware's report on the Probation Department's hiring practices.
Draft report of a probe into alleged discrimination at a probation office.
held in contempt
held in contempt
Documents in a legal fight where John J. O'Brien was held in contempt.
Depositions given in a suit that alleged discrimination on the basis of race and sex.
Showdown over a subpoena
A motion and response to fight an investigation into the Probation Department.
O'Brien's retirement application
State Probation Commissioner John J. OBrien abruptly resigned Dec. 31, 2010.
Former Massachusetts Probation Department head John J. OBrien used his influence to turn out attendees for a political fundraiser for then-Treasurer Timothy Cahill in exchange for a job for his wife, a prosecutor said today in opening statements in OBriens corruption trial. (12:02 p.m.)
A Suffolk Superior Court judge has refused to order separate trials for former state probation commissioner John J. OBrien and his codefendant, ex-Treasury aide Scott S. Campbell even though lawyers for the men argue a single trial will pit the two against each other. (12/30/12)
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 in 2013, the court system announced. (Globe, 8/24/12)
John J. O'Brien, the former probation commissioner charged with racketeering and mail fraud, has been appointed a federal public defender. (Boston Globe, 6/14/12)
Three former members of the scandal-plagued Probation Department are now under federal indictments, according to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz' office. (Boston Globe, 3/23/12)
A former acting chief probation officer was arrested and charged with intimidating and harassing a witness as part of the federal investigation of the patronage hiring scandal at the state Probation Department. (Boston Globe, 12/21/11)
House Speaker Robert DeLeo scheduled a caucus to remove Charles Murphy, who infuriated DeLeo with comments related to an ongoing investigation of probation department patronage. (Globe, 12/5/11)
The acting chief probation officer at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton was placed on administrative leave yesterday amid questions of whether he would be indicted by a federal grand jury investigating the patronage hiring scandal in the state Probation Department. (Boston Globe, 10/27/11)
A Suffolk County grand jury has indicted former Probation Commissioner John OBrien on charges that he traded political donations to former state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill in exchange for a job for OBriens wife. (Boston Globe, 9/19/11)
Former probation commissioner John J. O’Brien followed a “deeply flawed’’ process to award a multimillion dollar contract for electronic monitoring services, raising suspicion that O’Brien’s choice was based on “favoritism, fraud, or improper influence,’’ according to the state inspector general. (Boston Globe, 6/8/11)
Acting Probation Commissioner Ronald P. Corbett Jr. has fired the agency’s top lawyer, concluding that Christopher J. Bulger “violated his professional duty’’ by repeatedly briefing Corbett’s predecessor about the investigation into his conduct. (Boston Globe, 5/31/11)
Stung by a Probation Department scandal, the state Senate approved a bill designed to limit the influence of political connections in obtaining state jobs. (Boston Globe, 5/20/11)
Attorney General Martha Coakley is investigating whether former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill and former probation commissioner John O’Brien violated state ethics law by trading treasury jobs for campaign donations. (Boston Globe, 5/8/11)
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo has emerged as an antipatronage reformer, but a Spotlight Team review has found that he sponsored many for probation jobs. (By Andrea Estes and Scott Allen, Globe Staff)
The state’s top administrative judge appointed Ronald Corbett Jr. to a two-year term as commissioner of the Probation Dept., replacing John J. O’Brien, who resigned on New Year’s Eve amid charges that he had built a fraudulent hiring and promotion system. (Boston Globe)
State Probation Commissioner John J. O’Brien, whose alleged use of his agency’s payroll to reward political patrons plunged the department into scandal, abruptly resigned yesterday. (Boston Globe)
The state’s top judges are facing tough questions about whether they fulfilled their responsibilities to monitor the Probation Dept. and rein in Commissioner John O’Brien. (Boston Globe, 12/4/10)
The Ware report
Coverage of the report on the Probation Department that Paul F. Ware Jr. prepared for the Supreme Judicial Court.
Thomas M. Petrolati, the third-ranking Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, agreed to leave his leadership post, becoming the first political casualty of an independent counsel’s report that portrayed him as a major player in the patronage scandal engulfing the state’s Probation Department. (Globe Staff)
The state’s highest court ordered court officials to move swiftly to fire the probation commissioner, suspend his senior lieutenants, and ask prosecutors to weigh criminal charges. (Boston Globe, 11/19/10)
The independent counsel’s report that staggered the state Probation Department yesterday exposed evidence of a corrosive partnership with state lawmakers who for years have used the agency as a sort of private employment agency, knowing that as long as they fed the agency’s budget, jobs for their supporters would follow. (By Andrea Estes and Scott Allen, Globe Staff, 11/19/10)
The Spotlight Report
The state Probation Department once set the standard for the nation in rehabilitating criminals. But nine years ago the Legislature freed it from meaningful oversight, and the results were predictable: budgets soared, and the welcome mat was out for hundreds of job seekers with political juice. (Boston Globe, 5/22/10)
Just before he took over as the state’s chief administrative judge, Robert A. Mulligan began meeting with the court system’s department heads, chummy meet-and-greet sessions that gave the incoming boss a chance to get to know his top lieutenants. (Boston Globe, 5/23/10)
Investigations are swirling around state Representative Thomas Petrolati, a legislative leader with huge sway over Probation Department hiring and a history of acting as if rules do not apply to him. (Boston Globe, 10/24/10)
The troubles at the state Probation Department go way beyond patronage. Key programs have gone astray, with bloated budgets and indifferent management; caseload reports are wildly exaggerated; and a culture of secrecy prevails. (Boston Globe, 7/24/10)
The independent counsel investigating the Massachusetts Probation Department has found strong evidence that suspended commissioner John J. O’Brien manipulated his agency’s hiring and promotion process to advance applicants with insider support, according to a source familiar with the investigation. (Boston Globe, 7/25/10)
From Western Massachusetts to West Roxbury, the controversy at the state Probation Department is reverberating in political races as candidates for the Legislature and other offices seize on reports of the agency’s record of patronage as yet another reason to sweep incumbents out of office. (Boston Globe, 5/29/10)
Probation Commissioner John J. O’Brien was stripped of his duties as the state’s highest court appointed a special counsel to conduct an investigation into the state agency. (Boston Globe, 5/24/10)
The state’s high court rejected a bid by state Representative Thomas M. Petrolati to avoid answering questions about his efforts to place friends, relatives, and political supporters in state probation jobs. (Boston Globe, 9/16/10)
Columns and commentary on the series
The most troubling revelation of the independent counsel’s report on the state Probation Department wasn’t the rampant patronage. It was the fact that this corrupt jobs bazaar seems to have been an open secret on Beacon Hill. (Boston Globe, 11/19/10)