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Speaker DeLeo: I’m Not Target Of Federal Probe

Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press
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House Speaker Robert DeLeo

House Speaker Robert DeLeo

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Wednesday that he’s confident he is not the target of an ongoing investigation into the state Probation Department.

DeLeo said that he’s been informed that federal investigators have decided he’s not a focus of the probe.

“I’m confident that I’m in the clear,” DeLeo told reporters after a Democratic House caucus. “I’ve been informed that the U.S. attorney has stated that they have found that I was not part of any impropriety.”

The Winthrop Democrat also said he didn’t get any special treatment because of his position as House Speaker. He said he doesn’t know if any other House lawmakers are targets of the investigation.

“I know that there is still a grand jury out there but I do not know the status of any other members,” he said.

Former probation commissioner John O’Brien was acquitted this year of state corruption charges, but faces federal bribery charges.

The 56-page federal indictment alleges O’Brien bribed DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray by giving jobs to supporters in exchange for increases to his department’s budget. In the indictment, Murray and DeLeo are only referred to by their job titles.

Neither Murray nor DeLeo was indicted, and both have said they did nothing wrong.

A spokesman for Murray said at the time that it’s “misleading and irresponsible” to suggest the Plymouth Democrat had anything to do with the alleged probation department scheme.

O’Brien resigned in 2011 after an independent counsel found he oversaw a rigged hiring system in which the politically connected got department jobs over more qualified candidates.

DeLeo reported spending $300,000 on legal fees during the first half of the year as investigators ramped up their probe of the probation department.

In a filing Monday with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, DeLeo reported spending the money on the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo in two $150,000 payments.

DeLeo defended the payments Wednesday.

“It’s a process that’s been going on for three or four years,” he said. “Mr. Popeo is a great attorney.”

The probation commissioner heads the Massachusetts Probation Service and the Office of Community Corrections and oversees 1,800 workers in more than 100 locations across the state.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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