Ex-Massachusetts probation chief, 2 others, seek delay in sentencing by US judge

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BOSTON — Lawyers for convicted former state probation chief John O'Brien and two deputies indicated Tuesday in a motion seeking a 30-day delay in sentencing that state judges and other officials have expressed interest in offering comments in support of the defendants.

O'Brien, William Burke and Elizabeth Tavares were convicted by a federal jury in July on charges stemming from what prosecutors said was a scheme to rig the department's hiring process to favor applicants sponsored by powerful state lawmakers.

In a court filing Tuesday, defense attorneys asked U.S. District Court Judge William Young to move the Nov. 12 sentencing date to Dec. 10, saying they needed more time to prepare.

"The defendants have many people who have come forward and expressed an interest in speaking to (defense attorneys) regarding the defendants' work history, personal characteristics, and other mitigating factors that bear on what constitutes an appropriate sentence," the lawyers wrote in their motion.

The individuals included state court judges, sheriffs, lawyers and others with "relevant information," the motion said.

The defense also noted that a hearing on a motion asking Young to throw out the verdicts or order a new trial that originally had been scheduled for last week was postponed until Nov. 6, placing it less than a week before the current sentencing date.

Federal prosecutors have not proposed specific sentences for O'Brien, Burke and Tavares, but argued in a brief filed earlier this month that as public officials they deserved enhanced punishment for abusing their positions of trust.

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