Mulligan testimony likely untruthful – defense lawyers

Probation defendants seeking new trial

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Defense attorneys, who represent three former probation officials convicted of secretly rigging the hiring system, are accusing former Chief Justice of Administration and Management Robert Mulligan of “likely” testifying untruthfully in the trial.

Mulligan was a key witness in the trial of former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien and two former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, who were convicted July 24 for crimes associated with a scheme to base personnel decisions on political connections while disguising the hiring process as merit-based.

Defense attorneys during the trial cast the former top court official as fully aware of the patronage system in the Probation Department and accused him of practicing his own patronage in the hiring of court security officers, which he denied. Mulligan signed off on the probation hires, and contended that he was duped by O’Brien and the sham interview processes.

“Mulligan, the government’s star witness and supposed ‘victim’ of the charged mail fraud offenses, likely testified untruthfully about a material matter of dispute,” the attorneys wrote in a filing on Monday. They wrote, “To allow a jury verdict to remain intact that is based, in part, on misleading or untruthful testimony would violate the defendants’ constitutional right to a fair trial. Accordingly, the interests of justice require that a new trial be granted.”

Attempts to contact Mulligan late Monday night were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the Trial Court did not respond to a request for comment Monday night. No response from federal prosecutors to the defense motion was filed Monday night.

At one point during the trial, Mulligan denied hiring someone because of his connection to one of his superior’s in the Judiciary, calling the accusation “absolutely wrong and terribly misleading.” During the trial, the defense presented no witnesses of their own.

In making their accusations Monday, defense attorneys pointed to a newly decoded column in spreadsheets associated with the hiring of court officers, which they claim demonstrates Mulligan engaged in patronage.

At the trial Mulligan acknowledged keeping a spreadsheet of court officer candidates that listed who backed them, and said he kept letters of recommendation. The new evidence that the defense attorneys contend requires a new trial is a coded system on those spreadsheets that marked which candidates were backed by top leaders in the House and Senate.

According to the filing, Estela Cordeiro, an administrative assistant for the Office of Court Management, contacted the defense attorneys after the guilty verdict saying that she was the author of a spreadsheet that had puzzled the attorneys.

In an affidavit signed Oct. 16, Cordeiro said she received lists of names from the court’s acting Head of Security Thomas Connolly that indicated whether an applicant “came from” former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi or former Senate President Robert Travaglini.

A key aspect of the case against the three former probation officials was that special deference was paid to any potential probation hire who had the backing of a member of legislative leadership.

Cordeiro said Connolly told her the lists of names were provided by Mulligan and his chief of staff Robert Panneton. Cordeiro said she assembled the names into a spreadsheet with a column titled S/T and initials to indicate whether the applicant came from DiMasi or Travaglini, and she emailed the spreadsheet to Mulligan. Cordeiro said people whose names were on Connolly’s lists were hired.

“Mulligan repeatedly denied that members of the legislature influenced his hiring decisions,” the attorneys wrote. They argued, “This information stands in stark contrast to CJAM Mulligan’s testimony in which he denied that he made lists, denied that he kept track of who was calling, denied that he was influenced by legislative recommendations, and that he received only one telephone call from Senate President Travaglini.”

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

The defense attorneys – Stellio Sinnis, Brad Bailey and John Amabile – said Cordeiro’s affidavit “raises serious issues of doubt regarding the credibility and veracity” of Mulligan’s testimony. In their filing to Judge William Young they said he instructed the jury at least twice that in order for the crimes to have been committed, Mulligan needed to have been defrauded by certifications O’Brien signed that the hiring process had been followed.

During the second day of its lengthy deliberations the jury asked whether Mulligan had to have been deceived, and Young told them they need to consider what Mulligan “would have made of” the certifications. As part of their filing the defense attorneys included one of Cordeiro’s spreadsheets from around December 2005.