By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON — Jobs in the state probation department were given to Rep. Robert DeLeo’s office to fill in order to help him in his ultimately successful quest for the speakership, a former legislative liaison for the probation department testified Tuesday.
Ed Ryan said the plan was described to him by Lenny Mirasolo, a former aide to DeLeo, and former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien, who tallied votes and targeted lawmakers to swing them toward supporting DeLeo.
“He was speaking to me about the votes they were trying to obtain for the speaker’s race,” Ryan said about a conversation he had with O’Brien.
“They were trying to gather support for Chairman DeLeo, Representative DeLeo, and that Bob Rice and Hank Naughton were two of the people that Lenny had clearly identified… to vote for Bob DeLeo in the speaker’s race.”
DeLeo prevailed in the contest to succeed Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, ascending to one of the most powerful positions in state government in January 2009 after competing with Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood) for the position.
Asked about the jobs-for-votes allegation last week, DeLeo told reporters that “never happened.”
Prosecutors on Tuesday also called to the witness stand former Judge Robert Mulligan, who was the chief administrative judge of the trial court.
Naughton, a Clinton Democrat, said Mirasolo offered him an opportunity to make a job recommendation for an electronic monitoring facility in Clinton, and former Rep. Robert Rice said DeLeo called him in the summer of 2007 with a similar offer.
Candidates recommended by Rice, Naughton and others were hired, and DeLeo ascended from Ways and Means chairman, the post he held under Speaker DiMasi, to speaker in January 2009.
Rice previously testified that DeLeo never told him he owed him a favor and said he hadn’t connected the hire to any votes.
The testimony Tuesday morning helped buttress a key prosecution claim, that DeLeo was given probation jobs to hand out as part of his campaigning within the House for the speakership.
“Those jobs were given to Lenny Mirasolo…. for the speaker of the House’s race,” Ryan said.
O’Brien and two of his former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, are charged with rigging the hiring of probation officers and with handing out jobs in 2007 and 2008 like “lollipops” to staff the new ELMO facility in Clinton with the hopes of buying lawmakers’ support.
No elected officials are charged in the case.