Skip to main content

Your Tewksbury Today

Lyons, Lombardo Angry That House Committee Won't Investigate Probation Department Scandal

Dec 31, 2014 02:33PM ● By Bill Gilman
State Reps. Jim Lyons, R-andover, and Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, are furious that Democratic state Rep. David Linsky, the chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, is refusing to open an investigation into the Probation Department scandal that led to criminal convictions for three state officials.
Last month, Jack O'Brien, the former director of the Probation Department, was sentenced 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).
Immediately following the sentencing, Lombardo and Lyons sent a letter to Linsky, requesting a committee investigation to find out exactly how wide the corruption spread and whether or not the House should take sanctions against members involved in the scandal.
However, Linsky denied their request, prompting Lyons and Lombardo to fire off another letter this week, wondering why.
In their letter, the Republicans point out that since 2010, Linsky's committee has conducted investigations and crafted reports dealing with such topics as Lyne Disease, the MWRA Water Main Breach, Gun Trafficking and indigent legal services.
"One might conclude that a rigged hiring system for taxpayer-funded jobs rises to the standards of prior investigations," wrote Lyons and Lombardo. "In a telling rebuke, US District Court Judge William G. Young defined the verdicts in the probation scandal as 'massive corruption.' Does not 'massive corruption' meet the standard established for an honest and public investigation?"
In their November letter, Lyons and Lombardo had detailed specific questions they felt needed to be answered regarding the scandal:
"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 their Dec. 29 letter, the Republican lawmakers say they believe Linsky has a responsibility to open the investigation.
"The committee has full authority and legislative responsibility to review corruption at and poor oversight of this agency," they wrote.

Follow us on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter at @TewksburyToday Follow us on Instagram at YourTewksburyToday