Tag Archives: probation department scandal

FROM THE SECRET FILES OF THE MASSACHUSETTS PATRONAGE DEPARTMENT, MPD, (Formerly known as the Massachusetts Probation Department)

February 14, 2010

FROM: John J. O’Brien, Commissioner

TO: James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr.

ADDRESS: Somewhere in Santa Monica, CA (for internal use only)

RE: Your application for employment


Dear Whitey:

How wonderful to receive your application for future employment in our agency, in the event you ever return to your home state. Here at the Patronage Department we receive numerous applications, but rarely from someone so highly qualified to deal with criminals, killers and thugs. O'Brien

However, as Commissioner of the Mass Patronage Department it often falls upon me to perform the most difficult and unpleasant tasks. Thus, with a heavy heart and my hands raised high in the air, I regret to inform you I must reject your application for employment at the MPD.

Please don’t take this as a personal rejection. Far from it! With two of your nephews already on the department’s payroll, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to bring another Bulger aboard. Your brother William has written to me with expressions bordering on outright bragging of your numerous talents and accomplishments—your entrepreneurial spirit, your gang leadership skills, your hair-trigger response to challenges, your managerial finesse in parceling out punishment. All skills we could easily put to good use at the MPD.

In fact, because of the many obstacles you face in returning to Massachusetts for a personal interview, I took the liberty of having a surrogate sit through your civil service exam. And I’m pleased to inform you your score was so exceptional you already outrank almost all other applicants.

But alas, I cannot offer you a job should you eventually return to Massachusetts. Ordinarily, someone like you with glowing recommendations from the F.B.I. and the Massachusetts Senate, not to mention multiple good conduct reports from the Mass Correctional System, would be a shoo-in for almost any position in the MPD. But I cannot step aside and allow you to take the Commissioner’s job, as you requested. Not even if you hold a gun to my head as you—no doubt jokingly—suggested.

And so, Whitey, I hope you won’t hold it against me that I cannot fulfill your request for suitable employment at the MPD. As for your idea of serving our department in some security capacity, I can only reply that MPD employees are not allowed to carry loaded firearms, especially in the Commonwealth’s courthouses. Another reason why I hold our prissy, pettifogging judges in such contempt.

Next thing you know they’ll be turning patronage into a crime!

And so, Whitey, I wish you great success in finding a new career path for when you ultimately return to your home state. A career path that would support any claims of personal redemption and improved moral character you might make to offset all those murder, robbery and extortion charges.

Your nephews send their love and wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!



John J. O’Brien

Commissioner and CDJ (Chief Dispenser of Jobs)

Massachusetts Patronage Department











Can We Just Send Finneran The Bill? Please!

Representative Thomas Finneran will go down in local history for a variety of egregious acts committed against the best interests of the Commonwealth and its citizens. First, of course, he will be remembered as the politician who terminally wounded Clean Elections in our state by refusing, as Speaker of the Massachusetts House, to honor the referendum vote that legally established publicly financed elections and limits on campaign spending for public office.Finneran

Then, of course, the Stalinist Speaker from Dorchester will most be remembered for his conviction on obstruction of justice charges. The obstruction was committed in a trial where he professed ignorance of redistricting decisions that he himself dictated to his dutiful minions. The fact that those decisions discriminated against black and minority voters to the benefit of himself and other incumbent white legislators was a mere coincidence, according to an unrepentant and defiant Finneran.

And most recently, in Federal Court we are witnessing the real legacy of Thomas M. Finneran at the racketeering trial of former Probation Department officials. Though John O’Brien, former Probation Commissioner, and two of his deputies are the ones on trial, it’s really Finneran’s legislative shadow that falls across the proceedings. Because it was Finneran who empowered O’Brien, thus enabling the allegedly rigged hiring system that  favored well-connected applicants over more qualified candidates. A system that fed on a vicious cycle of yearly budget increases voted by a patronage-hungry legislature. A system that poured millions of tax dollars down a sink hole of cronyism. Millions of dollars funneled to friends and relations of politicians rather than the state’s under-funded schools, broken down bridges or its struggling transportation system.

Of course, the biggest cost was paid by those lawbreakers in the probation system who for years were denied the value of honest guidance and supervision by highly qualified probation officers. Who can calculate the price they paid?

But back to our story…

Finneran was Speaker of the House in 1997, when O’Brien was appointed to run the Probation Department. Increasingly frustrated by a system that required the approval by local judges of all probation officers assigned to their courts, Finneran, in late 2001, pushed through a bill centralizing hiring and promotion decisions in O’Brien’s office.

It was Finneran who knowingly created this honey pot for his legislative colleagues. Finneran who enabled John O’Brien and his Probation Department to become the alleged disasters they ultimately became. Finneran who should be sent an invoice for every dollar paid by the state to every under-qualified probation department employee. And if you read the list of the department’s politically-connected employees, you’ll find a select inventory of relatives and friends of the state’s high and mighty, from two sons of former Senate President William Bulger, to children, nephews, friends and campaign workers of more politicians than ordinarily show up for work on a normal day at the State House.

As Finneran explained at the time of his 2001 legislative push to give O’Brien unchallenged hiring authority, “If you scan a list of probation officers, there might be sons and daughters of politicians and judges there. That’s not going to go away. And, honestly, I don’t think it should. They shouldn’t be excluded because of the achievements of their parents.’’

To which I’d like to add, “Nor should a politician be excluded from paying for the cost of his political crime, even if he’s merely its unindicted legislative enabler.

So, please, can somebody figure out how many millions of dollars the Commonwealth has spent in the last dozen years to fund a Probation Department strong on political connections but almost bereft of professional focus or substance?

And then, please, I beg you, send an invoice for that amount to Thomas M. Finneran.

In lieu of our sincere “Thanks!”