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DeLeo Claims Vindication But Slams Prosecutors In Probation Jobs Case

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BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo spoke out Friday about a verdict that dismissed the U.S. Attorney’s claim he tried to buy support in his run for speaker with probation jobs supplied by John O’Brien and his cohorts.

“I felt extremely vindicated,” DeLeo told WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller.

But despite signs of support from constituents as he moved around his district Friday DeLeo is still seething over what he sees as the unfair smearing of his name.

“There were some 34 other so-called unindicted co-conspirators here in this case, yet it was my name that kept on coming up by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said the Winthrop Democrat. “I understand they have a job to do, but as they proceed with the job they should realize there are an awful lot of good elected officials out there who are trying to do their best day in and day out for their constituents.”

After Thursday’s verdict, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the case, “amply demonstrated that any system of hiring public employees which is not based on merit can rapidly devolve into fraud.”

Ortiz says she’ll keep pursuing Beacon Hill corruption.

DeLeo offers no defense of O’Brien and company, saying “obviously that was wrong.”

But he claims Ortiz is misguided if she thinks pursuit of corruption still leads to his door.

DeLeo said that despite everything that has happened, he will continue to refer people for jobs in state government.

“I will tell you that, as I have in the past, I have been careful in terms of making sure that the person is qualified,” DeLeo said.

The speaker acknowledges damage has been done to chronically challenged public esteem for the Legislature, and he says he’ll work hard to repair it.

It wouldn’t be surprising if federal prosecutors – perhaps stung by criticism that they only bagged small fish in the O’Brien case while the big ones got away – work equally hard to impeach it.

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