Closing arguments made in probation hiring trial - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Closing arguments made in probation hiring trial

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By BOB SALSBERG
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) - Lawyers have delivered closing arguments in the federal trial of former state probation commissioner John O'Brien and two deputies accused of rigging the agency's hiring process to favor politically-connected candidates over more qualified ones.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin Bell told the jury Tuesday that O'Brien, along with co-defendants William Burke and Elizabeth Tavares, cheated people out of jobs and cheated the people of Massachusetts out of having the most qualified probation officers.

Prosecutors say O'Brien hoped to curry favor with powerful legislators on Beacon Hill.

O'Brien's lawyer, Stellio Sinnis, said prosecutors failed to offer proof that his client broke the law.

Burke's lawyer called the prosecution a "political witch hunt."

Prosecutors allege that the defendants created a "sham" hiring procedure to assure that candidates with political sponsors were hired.

Jury deliberations will begin Wednesday.

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