Ware says his probe did not clear DeLeo
Independent counsel calls Speaker’s claim a distortion
Paul Ware, the independent counsel appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to investigate Probation Department corruption, took issue with House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s contention that his 2010 probe found the Speaker engaged in no impropriety.
“It is a distortion on the part of the Speaker to claim the investigation of the independent counsel exonerated him, because it did not,” Ware said. The Goodwin Procter partner said he is not implying DeLeo engaged in criminal conduct, but nor is he implying that the Speaker is innocent of any wrongdoing.
DeLeo over the last week has issued several statements claiming that Ware’s investigation exonerated him. On Thursday, after a jury found former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and two of his top aides guilty of corruption charges related to Probation hiring, DeLeo again said Ware’s investigation “found no impropriety on my part.”
Ware’s report became the roadmap for subsequent state and federal criminal investigations of the Probation Department. The report concluded the agency’s hiring and promotion process represented “a pervasive fraud against the Commonwealth.” The report also said the hiring and promotion process may violate federal fraud statutes and state bribery laws.
Ware urged that the findings in his report be shared with the state attorney general and the US attorney’s office. He said in his report that the potential targets of a criminal investigation would include O’Brien, Elizabeth Tavares, and William Burke III, who were found guilty on Thursday.
The other potential targets mentioned by Ware were three other top O’Brien aides: Francis Wall, Patricia Walsh, and Christopher Bulger. Wall testified at the trial under a grant of immunity. Walsh and Bulger did not testify. During the federal Probation trial, Bulger lashed out at Ware in an interview with Lawyer’s Weekly. Bulger accused Ware of lying in his report about Bulger’s testimony and failing to include comments that did not support the findings.
Ware said the jury’s verdict on Thursday confirmed the accuracy of his report.
“I believe the verdict reaffirms basic principles of integrity,” he said, adding that the jury’s pronouncement essentially stated that “a state agency and its employment process are not a playpen for politics.”As for the defense claim at the trial that O’Brien and his colleagues were practicing the same type of patronage that other officials routinely engaged in, Ware acknowledged that “there’s plenty of corruption to go around” in the public and private sectors. But he said the “everybody-is-doing-it” argument is not persuasive.
“That should not deter us from trying to enforce the law and the standards the public expects,” he said. “I’m unsympathetic to the argument that others may be corrupt.”