Probation Trials may lead right up to election day

The Boston Herald is reporting that a federal judge has ordered two multiple month long trials to deal with all the charges against former probation chief John O’Brien.

Federal and state lawmakers, along with dozens of other potential witnesses, could have to testify twice if called in the racketeering and bribery case against former Probation commissioner John J. O’Brien after a federal judge today split the sweeping indictment into two months-long trials.

Calling it the “most complex indictment” he’s seen in 35 years, Judge William G. Young ordered that one jury will hear the first 12 counts of the 30-count complaint charging conspiracy, racketeering and mail fraud against O’Brien and two of his top lieutenants, while a second jury will decide their fate on the latter 18 counts of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery.

O’Brien, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke are accused of concocting a rigged hiring process that scored jobs for applicants pushed by legislators, who in exchange funneled more money into their department. Their attorneys have argued that patronage is not illegal.

“I do this in the interest of justice, to make it comprehensible to jurors,” Young said from the bench. “I am convinced this makes it … a less confusing trial. It’s certainly more comprehensible to me.”

The Herald says that both trials will take two months at minimum, and the second trial may start right before the election in September.

They are expected to be calling multiple members of the legislature to testify.  

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