Prosecutors: Nothing new in O’Brien motion

US Attorney says court officer spreadsheets not new

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday dismissed claims by attorneys for former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and two top deputies that they had “newly discovered evidence” that a top judge lied under oath about legislative influence in hiring, saying Judge Robert Mulligan testified “ad naseum” about the existence of sponsor lists for court officers.

Defense attorneys on Monday filed a motion saying they were contacted by Estela Cordeiro, a former Probation employee, who produced job candidate spreadsheets for court officers similar to ones prosecutors had introduced during the trial of O’Brien, Elizabeth Tavares, and William Burke III to show that the Probation workers were steering jobs to the politically well-connected. Included in Cordeiro’s spreadsheets was a column that identified whether a candidate was recommended by then-House Speaker Sal DiMasi or former Senate President Robert Travaglini.

The attorneys insisted the information was “newly discovered,” a requirement for granting a new trial, but prosecutors said there is nothing new. The brief from the government says defense attorneys were told about the information during pre-trial discovery but Cordeiro’s name was misspelled, with prosecutors spelling it “Estela Cardoso.” The prosecutors said defense attorneys could have easily found out who she was then and the spreadsheets were there for their picking.

“While Ms. Cordiero’s last name was misspelled, the government’s letter identified her by title and department and informed the defendants that some of the court officer spreadsheets – including spreadsheets identical to those Cordiero describes in her affidavit – were found on Cordiero’s computer,” Assistant US Attorney Karin Bell wrote in the brief. “The defendants’ claim, therefore, that they ‘were provided with [no] information regarding who created the lists’ is incorrect.”

Bell also says Cordeiro’s claim that the names came from Mulligan amounted to no more than hearsay and nothing was offered to show Mulligan knew or acted on recommendations from legislative leaders. Cordeiro, in her affidavit, says she was given the names by Thomas Connelly, the Trial Court’s head of security, who said he received the names from Mulligan, who was the Chief Justice of Administration and Management. The prosecutors said Mulligan was consistent in his testimony that he never hired any court officers based on pressure from legislators and Cordeiro has no proof that Mulligan actually forwarded the names.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. 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.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. 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.

“Thus, her statement boils down to this: CJAM Mulligan might have known that the former Senate President and the former Speaker of the House sponsored court officers for employment [italics in the original],” Bell wrote.

Defense lawyers, during their withering cross-examination of Mulligan, tried to show that he engaged in the same acts as O’Brien, Tavares, and Burke but was never charged. Both Mulligan and prosecutors said there was no comparison between the two and jurors agreed, convicting the former Probation officials of mail fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy. They are set for sentencing Nov. 12.