Sun wire services
BOSTON (AP) -- Federal prosecutors told a jury that three former Massachusetts probation officials oversaw a rigged hiring process and handed out jobs like "lollipops" to applicants backed by powerful public officials.
But a defense attorney said during opening statements in federal court on Thursday that the government was "overreaching" in an effort to criminalize what they called normal and routine personnel decisions.
Former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien is charged along with former deputies Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke with rigging the agency's hiring process to favor politically-connected applicants, often at the expense of more qualified candidates
Prior to opening statements, Judge William Young told jurors that getting a job based on who you know is not against the law. He said prosecutors have to show that the defendants committed mail fraud and racketeering acts.
"No judge is charged, no legislator is charged," said defense lawyer John Amabile, who said former Chief Justice of Administration and Management Robert Mulligan received recommendations from the same elected officials as the defendants and called the charges "one-way bribery." Amabile said two dozen probation officials who are witnesses are deemed unindicted co-conspirators.