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Former Probation Commissioner Faces Possibility of Prison

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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Former Tim Cahill aide Scott Campbell (Left Photo courtesy: The Boston Globe) | Former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien (at right)

Former Tim Cahill aide Scott Campbell (Left Photo courtesy: The Boston Globe) | Former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien (at right)

WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Tonight there are criminal charges in the state’s probation scandal. Investigators say the former commissioner conspired with the State Treasurer’s office to land his wife a top job at the state lottery.

John O’Brien’s wife was hired by former Treasurer Tim Cahill.

These criminal indictments are yet another black eye for politicians on Beacon Hill. Now the former commissioner of the states probation department faces the possibility of ten years in prison for allegedly arranging campaign contributions in exchange for a state lottery job for his wife.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today that a grand jury had indicted former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien.

Also indicted, Scott Campbell, former State Treasurer Tim Cahill’s chief of staff.

Investigators found that Jack O’Brien talked with Cahill’s associate about a state job for O’Brien’s wife.

Coakley said, “We allege in these indictments that Campbell responded in these discussions, that treasurer Cahill was interested in a fund raiser and Campbell wondered if the commissioner wanted to be involved in the fund raiser.”

O’Brien said yes and the fund raiser was held in June 2005.

Probation Department employees donated thousands of the eleven thousand raised that night. O’Brien’s wife Laurie was hired by the State Lottery two months later.

WBZ-TV NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

In 2010, an independent investigation found that, “O’Brien, either directly or through his subordinates… solicited contributions to Cahill… for the purpose of assisting his wife in obtaining a desirable position within treasury.”

Monday independent counsel Paul Ware said,

“The indictments today reflect the determination of the Attorney General and others in the Commonwealth to put an end to what has been an unhappy chapter in the Probation Department. These indictments have been expected as a result of the investigation that was concluded in 2010.

I’m encouraged by the fact the Attorney General has taken both a bold and appropriate step in enforcing the law of the Commonwealth, and I don’t think it will be the last indictment.”

In 2010, Tim Cahill denied any wrongdoing saying he had been a neighbor of the probation commissioner for years.

“The fact John lives in Quincy and he has been a friend of mine for a long time are circumstances that neither he nor I can control.”

Cahill’s associate Scott Campbell was also indicted today for disguising campaign contributions while running the Cahill for Governor Campaign in 2010.

Investigators say Campbell gave individuals $500 in cash and asked them to write $500 checks to the Cahill campaign. That is a violation of state law.

Tim Cahill was not indicted today.

However his attorney released a statement essentially saying there is no connection between the fund raiser and the job for the commissioner’s wife. Attorney General Coakley says this investigation is not over.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson contributed to this report.

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