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.

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.