Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Former Probation Commissioner Is Prosecuted For MA White Collar Crimes In Boston

It seems to this Boston criminal lawyer that MA white collar criminal prosecutions seem to have become the “in” thing over the past couple of years. The most recent setting Boston’s federal court and the headline-grabbing sentencing arguments involved in the sentencing of Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi.

Yesterday, it was announced that another ex-public servant is looking down the barrel of the criminal justice system. This time, it is state court. To be specific, a Suffolk County grand jury has indicted former probation commissioner John O’Brien (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) on charges that he traded political donations to former state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill in exchange for a job for his Mrs. O’Brien.

The grand jury also indicted the Defendant’s chief of staff at the time, Scott Campbell, who handled personnel matters for Cahill. This would indicate that the Boston white collar crime is also being prosecuted as a Boston criminal conspiracy case.

By the way, Cahill was apparently not indicted.

The indictments were handed down in June and unsealed today, according to one source. The two men are expected to be arraigned next week.

The investigation was handled by Attorney General Martha Coakley. However, an independent counsel had been called in to investigate the charges of political patronage in the Probation Department this past November. This was apparently in response to the Boston Globe Spotlight Team series releasing a report portraying the agency as rife with patronage. The special counsel, Paul F. Ware Jr., launched his probe and, since, federal and state officials continued the investigation into allegations of rigged hiring, illegal campaign contributions, and other abuses. This would include alleged orchestration of donations by the Defendant in order to boot job prospects for his wife and, perhaps, his daughter.

If the Commonwealth’s allegations are true, Boston Probation’s part in criminal justice became a game the whole family could play!

Until now, there have been resignations, but not criminal prosecutions in connection to what might become known as “Probation-Gate“.

Today, it was Ware’s moment to shine in the limelight. He declared, “The return of the indictment today against former Commissioner O’Brien and the chief of staff of the state treasurer’s office is to be expected. To me, it is confirmation of the facts found during the course of my investigation… State jobs should not be a dividend for the connected nor for existing state employees in responsible positions. This charge strikes another blow to corruption in state government,”

Attorney Sam’s Take On Federal Investigations And Prosecutions

“Hey, Sam, how do the prosecutors decide who they will and who they will not indict?”


That’s an interesting question in this case. After all, Mr. Cahill is said to have acted in concert with the Defendant in the hiring of the Defendant’s wife and daughter. However, while his chief of staff was indicted, Mr. Cahill was not.

“Is it because the government sees Cahill as a victim in the matter?”

Well, that could be. However, there is another possibility. Sources involved in the investigation have revealed something that may well be instructive to this question. Apparently, there had been hope that the indicted ex-chief of staff would cooperate with the feds in the investigation. The investigators had hoped that Campbell would testify against Mr. Cahill. Apparently, he disappointed them.

No word about Mr. Cahill, other than the fact that he is not indicted. Could it be that Cahill did what Campbell would not do? Is that why Campbell is indicted and Cahill is not?

Often, particularly in federal prosecutions, defendants, or potential defendants, are convinced to dodge the criminal justice bullet by way of testifying against somebody else. The short answer, in other words, is “probably”.

“Ok, Sam, let’s assume for the sake of argument that I am not currently being indicted in federal court nor being pressured to testify against someone therein. What does this have to do with me?”

I am willing to bet that the Department of Probation is not the only professional office in which people can end up doing favors for one another. Nepotism is not something that the Defendant invented…even if he does turn out to be guilty as charged. Sometimes, what is common practice today is mistakenly assumed to be ok tomorrow. Sometimes, when tomorrow comes, the rules and expectations have changed.

The fact is that, particularly with white collar crimes, mistakes are made. Mistakes that can either break the law or present the suspicion of having broken the law.
If our above supposition is correct, Mr. Cahill did not safely make the transition from potential defendant to potential witness by having a lawyer who was new to the federal system or had never before encountered a criminal matter. He or she was not simply the lower-priced attorney who used to help Uncle Charlie with his estate.

The bottom line? When you even suspect that there may be an investigation with your name involved, you want to immediately take steps to protect yourself. Don’t be short sighted. Hire experienced legal counsel…criminal defense type of legal counsel…to guide and protect you.

You may even sidestep prosecution!


To view the article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/09/former-probation-commissioner-brien-indicted/WcScrj5Q2hrMVJA8ZisVUJ/index.html

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