BOSTON (CBS) – The prosecution has rested in the corruption trial of John O’Brien and two other former state Probation Department officials. O’Brien and two assistants declined to testify and jury deliberations could start next week.
In the past few days, testimony has focused on a man who isn’t even named as a witness: House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Proving that O’Brien and the others committed fraud with their patronage games has turned out to be a struggle for the feds. This week, they capped off their case by painting Speaker DeLeo as the poster boy for quid pro quo horse-trading without formally charging him or offering substantial evidence.
In an exclusive interview with WBZ’s Jon Keller, DeLeo pushes back hard.
“I’m proud to say that despite the fact of what’s going on down at the Moakley Courthouse that we can still be able to carry on,” DeLeo told Keller.
After a week of triumph on Beacon Hill with passage of a major gun bill, DeLeo is still furious with federal prosecutors he says are unfairly smearing him.
“It’s very easy for them to put in a document what they intend to prove, an offer of proof,” DeLeo said. “It’s another thing to prove it, and quite frankly they haven’t done it when it came to me.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not been able to provide one State Representative that they voted for me for Speaker because of the fact that I got them or I got a friend of theirs a job at probation,” DeLeo said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is very invested in this case, I realize that. OK, but I’m not gonna stand by and let them make these false accusations against me personally.”
DeLeo says the federal claims have taken a personal toll.
“If they want to have the feeling that they got to me, congratulations, they got to me. It does, it affects my children, they call me, ‘dad, what’s going on’ they’re hurt,” DeLeo says.
“I’ve been a state representative now for 22 years, I’ve been a selectman before that in Winthrop for nine. I’ve never even had an ethics complaint against me, I’ve never been before the Ethics Commission, I wouldn’t even know what an ethics complaint is all about.”
“You may disagree with me on gun bills or domestic violence or the budget,” DeLeo said, “but don’t ever say that I’m not honest.”
WBZ shared DeLeo’s quotes with the office of U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz. They declined comment.
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