Tuesday June 12, 2012

BOSTON (AP) - A judge has denied former Massachusetts probation commissioner John' O'Brien's request for public money to pay for private lawyers.

O'Brien has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud for overseeing what authorities have called a rigged hiring process at the agency. Prosecutors say job applicants were hired not on the basis of qualifications, but based on political connections.

A judge Monday denied O'Brien's request for federal funds to pay for his lawyers, who are not on an approved list of federal public offenders. The judge did, however, say that if O'Brien is eligible, he may use federal public defenders or private lawyers on an approved list.

O'Brien's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Federal prosecutors refused to comment on the decision.