Press Release November 19, 2010

Investigation by Goodwin Procter Partner Paul F. Ware Exposes Pervasive Fraud Across State Probation Department, Resulting in Overhaul of Agency

Paul F. Ware, Jr., a Goodwin Procter partner and former chair of its Litigation Department, has completed an exhaustive investigation of alleged improprieties across the State’s Probation Department.  The Ware Report, which represents almost 5,000 hours of pro bono work by an 11-person Goodwin Procter team, documents widespread corruption within the agency with regard to hiring and promotion of probation officers.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the report’s findings that the state Probation Department was rampant with “systemic corruption,’’ and ordered court officials to fire the probation commissioner, suspend his senior lieutenants and ask prosecutors to weigh criminal charges.

The department originally came under fire after a series of investigative reports in The Boston Globe.  Ware was appointed as independent counsel by the SJC in May and his team’s 307-page report, based on the testimony of nearly 100 witnesses and review of 525,000 documents, was publically released on November 18.

According to the SJC:

“The Report describes in careful detail a systemic abuse and corruption of the hiring and promotion processes of the Probation Department. Such abuse and corruption are intolerable and are a betrayal of the just expectations of the public and of employees in the judicial branch, including those in the Probation Department. Corrective measures must now be taken to repair the damage wrought by the conduct laid bare by Independent Counsel’s investigation, and to restore the integrity of all aspects of the Probation Department.”

Ware’s report concluded that Probation Department Commissioner John J. O’Brien and his lieutenants oversaw a hiring system that was rigged “on a grand scale,’’ conducting thousands of phony job interviews when the positions had already been promised to politically connected candidates.  Ware found that O’Brien had completely politicized the 2,000-employee department, giving jobs to candidates backed by state legislators while illegally pressuring employees to contribute to campaigns of key allies.

The fraud and resulting orders received significant media attention, including the Boston Globe and NECN.

For an in-depth interview with Ware, please listen to WBUR.

Photo Credit: Essdras Suarez of The Boston Globe