SJC seeks probes of DeLeo transcript leak

Asks US Attorney, AG, and Ethic Commission to investigate

THE MASSACHUSETTS SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT told House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Monday that it was asking three state and federal law enforcement agencies and its former independent counsel to investigate how a confidential transcript of a 2010 interview with DeLeo about hiring at the Probation Department came to be provided to the Boston Globe.

The Globe late last month published a front-page story suggesting that DeLeo’s sworn testimony on November 1, 2010, before Paul Ware, the independent counsel, was contradicted by lawmakers and other state officials during the trial last year of former Probation chief John O’Brien. The Globe said in the story that it had obtained a transcript of DeLeo’s testimony.

DeLeo responded with a strongly worded statement saying the Globe had distorted his testimony and taken his comments out of context. The Globe did not publish the transcript of the DeLeo interview, but said it stood by its story.

The Speaker subsequently wrote a letter to the SJC asking the court, which hired Ware to investigate hiring practices at Probation, “to formally investigate and identify the party or parties responsible for the knowing and malicious violation of the court’s order of impoundment and to hold such party or parties accountable for their actions, including referral to the appropriate authorities.”

In his letter on Monday to DeLeo, SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants said the court only received a “brief excerpt” of DeLeo’s testimony. Gants said the full transcript, along with all of the other exhibits, was impounded and retained by Ware. Gants said Ware was also directed to supply all of his interview transcripts and other documents to the US Attorney’s office in Boston, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, and the State Ethics Commission, which had requested them. Gants said all three agencies were instructed not to make them publicly available except under limited circumstances.

Ralph Gants, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Ralph Gants, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Gants said he was asking the US Department of Justice, the Massachusetts attorney general, and the State Ethics Commission to investigate the release of the DeLeo transcript and to inform the court what they find out. Gants said Ware was also being asked to explain procedures in place for securing the confidentiality of the DeLeo transcript.

In its successful prosecution of O’Brien for tampering with hiring practices at Probation to benefit the well-connected, the US Attorney’s office labeled DeLeo an unindicted coconspirator but never charged him or any other lawmaker with a crime.

“We do not know whether any of these agencies disseminated your transcript or, if so, to whom,” Gants wrote to DeLeo. “Nor do we know what restrictions, if any, the agencies may have imposed regarding further dissemination. Depending on who provided a copy of your transcript to the Boston Globe and the circumstances of such dissemination, the release of your transcript may involve a violation of professional ethics.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

In a January 2011 Globe story on DeLeo’s involvement with hiring at the Probation Department, the newspaper also reported that it had a transcript of his testimony before Ware. The 2011 story included a quote that was repeated a second time in the story that ran in the Globe in October. Andrea Estes, a reporter who worked on both stories, said in an email that the newspaper only had excerpts of DeLeo’s testimony in 2011 and now had the complete transcript.