When former Probation commissioner John J. O’Brien and two of his top deputies return to court on November 12 for sentencing, they’re not just facing the potential loss of their freedom for their convictions on mail fraud and racketeering. They also will see their monthly pensions disappear.
State workers convicted of crimes related to their jobs face the loss of their pensions. When former House speaker Sal DiMasi was convicted of corruption charges in June 2011, the state Retirement Board moved immediately to suspend his pension. DiMasi challenged that ruling in court, and a judge held that the pension couldn’t be revoked until sentencing.
Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for Treasurer Steven Grossman, said O’Brien and his former deputy commissioners, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, were sent letters after their convictions telling them the Retirement Board was monitoring their cases. O’Brien, who started as a probation officer in 1980, receives an annual pension of $58,032, while Tavares, who also started in the department in 1980, receives $55,548 a year. Burke, who was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, has the most to lose. After his 37-year career, Burke’s annual pension is $84,936.
John Amabile, an attorney for Burke, filed a motion that convinced Judge William Young to have the government pick up his tab for pending appeals and a possible second trial. An affidavit filed by Amabile indicates Burke has exhausted his savings.