DiMasi moves, Beacon Hill quakes
Last month, the Globe reported that federal prosecutors had “essentially completed their investigation” into rigged hiring at the state’s Probation Department, saying indictments “could be imminent.” Soon after, the Lowell Sun sized up the likely State House targets — two sitting state reps, two sitting senators, and one former legislator. The indictments have yet to materialize, but this morning, the Globe and the Herald both run with a bombshell update: Both papers say former House Speaker Sal DiMasi is on his way to Worcester, to testify before the Probation grand jury.
The former House Speaker was convicted last year of taking kickbacks in a software bid rigging scheme, and sentenced to eight years in prison. A request to serve his time at the federal medical facility at Devens was rejected, and instead, the Bureau of Prisons assigned DiMasi to a prison in Kentucky. But yesterday, the BOP’s inmate locator listed DiMasi as being in transit. DiMasi checked into a Brooklyn correctional facility last night. The BOP website updates nightly, but CommonWealth confirmed that DiMasi remained in Brooklyn earlier this morning.
The Herald cites “sources” saying DiMasi is returning to Massachusetts to cooperate with the Probation grand jury, which is hearing testimony in Worcester. The Globe cites “a person with direct knowledge of the arrangement” in reporting that DiMasi is heading to Worcester; the paper doesn’t confirm that DiMasi will testify in the grand jury looking into Probation, but notes that Worcester is where the Probation grand jury is sitting. It’s also worth noting that DiMasi’s pending criminal appeal does not appear on this week’s appeals court calendar.
DiMasi’s return marks a dramatic turn for a criminal investigation that has already shaken Beacon Hill. Even before DiMasi’s reported involvement, the investigation was threatening to blow apart Beacon Hill’s power structure.
Probation officials kept detailed records of candidates for patronage jobs that legislators sent their way. Paul Ware, the independent counsel who looked into rigged hiring for the Supreme Judicial Court, said lawmakers essentially traded preferential budget treatment for patronage jobs, and called the arrangement “a pervasive fraud against the Commonwealth.”
Ware’s report named several prominent legislators, including Sens. Mark Montigny, Stephen Brewer, Marc Pacheco, Steven Baddour, Senate President Therese Murray, and Murray’s predecessor, Robert Travaglini, as well as Reps. Eugene O’Flaherty, John Rogers, current House Speaker Robert DeLeo, former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, and Rep. Thomas Petrolati, a former enforcer for both DiMasi and DeLeo. Petrolati and Finneran both invoked their Fifth Amendment rights when called before Ware; CommonWealth previously reported that Finneran and Petrolati’s wife, a Probation employee, had been called to Worcester to testify.
DiMasi figures prominently in Ware’s report. He was one of the most prolific sponsors for patronage jobs at Probation, and was also one of the largest beneficiaries of campaign donations from Probation employees. Probation officials maintained a separate spreadsheet to track job requests from DiMasi.
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