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US corruption probe underway in Brookline

Water Division workers testify; contracts at issue

Email|Print| Text size + By John R. Ellement
Globe Staff / December 20, 2007

Four Brookline Water Division employees have testified before a federal grand jury investigating possible corruption inside the division, but their lawyer downplayed the probe.

Town Counsel Jennifer Dopazo also confirmed yesterday that federal investigators have asked for town policies outlining the procedures that apply when contractors seek to replace water pipes in the town.

"Federal subpoenas were served on four water department employees, and it is my understanding that they have appeared and completed their testimony before a federal grand jury," Dopazo said in a statement.

She said the grand jury investigation is being led by Assistant US Attorney George Vien, who is in US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan's public corruption unit. A spokeswomen for Sullivan's office and the Boston office of the FBI said they could not confirm or deny an investigation.

Nancy Daly, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said no employee has been placed on disciplinary leave nor has the town dramatically changed the functions of its water and sewer divisions.

"I hope that there will be no indictments coming out of this," she said by phone yesterday. "It would be premature for us to condemn anyone until we find out exactly what the allegations are and what the evidence is. . . . This may turn out to be something that is overblown."

Daly and Dopazo said they did not know exactly what has drawn the interest of federal investigators.

"We are waiting to see what comes out of this," Daly said.

The lawyer for the four workers, Joseph G. Donnellan, said his clients were not the targets of the grand jury probe.

"They were asked to come in," he said. "They were certainly cooperative, as every citizen should be. My clients have cooperated fully with everybody."

Donnellan also said he was not certain who was the target of the investigation. However, he added, "I think it's much ado about nothing."

Dopazo said the two divisions have a total of 135 positions, 16 of which are currently vacant.

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