Rep. Michael Costello testified yesterday at the federal corruption trial of Probation Commissioner John O’Brien and two of his employees. Prosecutors questioned Costello about whether someone needed legislative patronage to work in the Probation Department. Costello explained that he worked with then-Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi to get his wife and a family friend jobs with the Probation Department. Speaker DiMasi, now imprisoned for taking bribes from a software contractor, had the political influence needed to get people hired in the supposedly independent department.
Defense lawyers for the Probation Department officials agreed that hiring was heavily influenced by politicians. Cross-examining Costello, they argued that political patronage was how most jobs in the court system were filled, and therefore their clients did nothing illegal or even out of the ordinary.
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