Last Friday several newspapers wrote about the case involving the head of the Massachusetts probation department and two of his top aides who are in federal court facing penalties in excess of twenty years. The prosecutors indicted them not because they hired unqualified persons but because they did not hire those who the prosecutors believe are the most qualified. Instead, they hired those recommended by judges, legislators and others, practicing the time-honored tradition of patronage.
The three defendants in the case are middle age or over. None had a criminal record prior to the time on March 23, 2012, when as dangerous felons they “were led into their arraignments in Worcester federal court Friday handcuffed and shackled.” Over a year later in April 2013 the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston increased the charges and penalties O’Brien and his co-defendants were facing when it became clear they would not plead guilty. This is a common tactic in that office. It likes to frighten people into facing enormous amounts of time in prison unless they plead guilty or in some cases if they cooperate with the government.