Judge wants O’Brien, Tavares near homes

Urges imprisonment at Devens, Danbury

US District Court Judge William Young, who last week sentenced former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and his top deputy Elizabeth Tavares to surprisingly lenient prison sentences, has endorsed their requests to serve time in federal facilities close to home.

Without comment, Young recommended to the federal Bureau of Prisons that O’Brien, who lives in Quincy, serve his 18-month sentence at the minimum-security prison camp at Devens. He recommended that Tavares serve her 90-day stint at the low-security correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the closest federal prison serving females to her Newton home.

Young’s recommendations are not binding on the Bureau of Prisons, which makes the determinations on where a convicted felon will serve his or her time. Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, for instance, has been shipped around the country, spending most of his time in southern facilities, despite pleas from friends and family that he be placed at Devens, which has a medical facility where he could be treated for his advancing cancer.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Young sentenced O’Brien and Tavares, both 57, to prison after they were convicted of multiple counts of mail fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy. Former deputy commissioner William Burke III, 71, was found guilty of a single conspiracy count and Young sentenced him to one year of probation. The sentences were much shorter than laid out in federal sentencing guidelines and just a fraction of what prosecutors had requested.

O’Brien was also fined $25,000, while Tavares and Burke were each fined $10,000. Young has ordered O’Brien and Tavares to report to prison on January 12. All three will also lose their state pensions after more than three decades each in the Probation Department.