On July 24, the jury reached a verdict in the probation trial. It is a verdict that all of us have to respect.
With respect to the jury’s verdict, it must be noted that the jury confirmed that neither I nor any member of the Legislature had engaged in any inappropriate conduct. While the defendants were convicted of many of the charges, the jury specifically rejected the government’s allegation of bribery.
The jury concluded that the defendants provided a gratuity, which the law defines as a unilateral offense; they did not conclude that any form of bribery occurred. In other words, after hearing all the evidence the jury correctly concluded that neither I nor any other member of the Legislature engaged in any quid pro quo or had any knowledge of the defendant’s intent.
The jury’s verdict confirmed what I have been saying all along: that I never participated in a conspiracy with any of the defendants and that I never traded probation jobs for votes.
The jury’s verdict today is consistent with the findings of the Independent Counsel almost four years ago—which found no impropriety on my part. I must point out that the only reason that the U.S. Attorney identified me as an unindicted co-conspirator—one of 34 such persons— was to permit hearsay testimony by an immunized witness of a conversation to which I was not a party. It also needs to be pointed out again, that the U.S. Attorney failed to call the only other party to the conversation to testify.
Following the issuance of the Ware Report, I led the House to take strong action to change the hiring practices at the Department of Probation and Trial Court. Now, no probation officer nor court officer can lawfully be hired without taking an objective test that measures their basic qualifications. And hiring authorities are forbidden from taking into account recommendations of public officials until the very end of the process. Today’s verdict underscores the pressing need for the trial court and court administrator to recognize and implement that law.
We will continue to focus, as we have in recent weeks, on important pieces of legislation crucial to the public safety, environment and economy of the Commonwealth, such as guns, domestic violence and economic development.
Robert DeLeo is the current Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and represents Winthop and part of Revere.