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Reps. Lyons, Lombardo Request House Oversight Committee To Investigate Probation Department Scandal

Nov 17, 2014 08:29AM ● By Bill Gilman
Prosecutors identified 30 "unindicted co-conspirators" in the pay-for-pay scandal that brought the leadership of the Massachusetts Probation Department. State Reps. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, and Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, would like to see them held accountable.
Last week, Lyons and Lombardo wrote a letter to state Rep. David Linsky, Chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, requesting a formal investigation into the scandal and the legislators who may have been involved.
On Nov. 13, Federal Court Judge William G. Young sentenced Jack O'Brien, the former director of the Massachusetts Probation Department, to 18 months in prison and a $25,000 fine for orchestrating a scheme that involved giving to jobs in the department to unqualified people at the request of legislators and others in state government, bypassing qualified individuals in the process. Prosecutors presented evidence showing O'Brien and others then falsified documents to coverup what they had done.
Also convicted and sentenced were O'Brien's former top deputy director, Elizabeth Tavares (three months in prison) and former deputy William Burke (one year probation).
In their letter, Lyons and Lombardo make thinly veiled referenced to the unidicted co-conspirators in the case, a list which includes House Speaker Thomas DeLeo. They ask Linsky for an investigation that would answer four key questions:
"How was the rigged hiring system allowed to run, unabated, for almost a decade?
"What was the cost of the rigged hiring system to the taxpayer?"
"Were the hiring practices implemented at the ELMO facility in Clinton the standard throughout the entire Probation Department?"
"Why were the other employees within the Probation Department reluctant to expose the rigged hiring system for a decade?"
In a tearful statement made before she was sentence, Tavares made had said she wished she'd had the courage to expose the wrongdoing but she did not.
Lyons and Lombardo also ask Linsky's committee to make referrals to the House Ethics Committee "if it is determined that any members of the Legislature were involved in this criminal activity."
While prosecutors declined to press charges against DeLeo and other legislators identified  as being involved in the scandal, Lyons and Lombardo are hoping the Ethics Committee will issue official sanctions. While unlikely it would result in resignations from the Legislature, it would add fuel to Lyons' continuing campaign to "change Beacon Hill." It's a process he has said can only happen with the elimination of "one party rule" in Massachusetts.
Attached is a complete copy of the letter sent by Lyons and Lombardo.

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