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Former Massachusetts probation chief guilty of racketeering

The wife of former Massachusetts Probation Commissioner John O'Brien collapsed in court as he was convicted of racketeering.
By Frances Burns   |   July 24, 2014 at 5:22 PM   |   Comments

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BOSTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Former Massachusetts Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and two of his deputies were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit racketeering.

O'Brien and one deputy, Elizabeth Tavares, were also found guilty of racketeering and mail fraud. The second deputy, William Burke III, was acquitted of those charges.

O'Brien's wife collapsed as the verdicts were read and was taken to a hospital.

He faces a long term in federal prison when he is sentenced in November.

Prosecutors charged that O'Brien used jobs as bribes for members of the Massachusetts legislature, hiring lawmakers or their candidates. In return, he allegedly got huge increases in his budget.

"None of these legislators worked a day at probation," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Fisher said during a hearing in December on a defense motion to dismiss the indictment. "They did nothing for probation."

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