House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said today he has been told he would not be charged in the federal investigation into patronage at the Massachusetts Probation Department that has roiled state government.
“I’m confident that I’m in the clear because I’ve been informed that the US Attorney has stated that they have found that I was not part of any impropriety,” he told reporters at the State House this morning.
Asked if all his members would avoid charges, DeLeo said he did not know. “There is still a grand jury out there, but I do not know the status of any other members,” he said.
In a telephone interview, DeLeo’s attorney, R. Robert Popeo, said he received the news about his client on Tuesday.
“A senior person in the office of the US attorney called me to let me know that they were not proceeding against DeLeo,” said Popeo, who is the chairman of the powerhouse law firm Mintz Levin.
A spokeswoman in the office of Carmen M. Ortiz, the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, had no comment on the matter.
In filings with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance earlier this week, DeLeo reported paying $300,000 to Mintz Levin for legal services over the course of the last six months.
Popeo said the fact that he got the call from the US Attorney’s office the same day news outlets were reporting on his fee was “coincidental.”
Asked about the substantial fees, DeLeo praised his lawyer.
“I think Mr. Popeo is a great attorney,” the speaker said.
Popeo said he did not have information about whether other members of the Legislature would avoid charges as well.
“I’m not telling you the Probation Department investigation is over, because I’m not privy to that,” Popeo said.
John J. O’Brien, the former head of the Probation Department, pleaded not guilty earlier this year to federal charges he allegedly bribed state legislators, including DeLeo, by procuring jobs for their friends, relatives and supporters. O’Brien was acquitted of separate state bribery charges earlier this year.
In a statement at the time of O’Brien’s federal indictment on the bribery charges in April, DeLeo said he had done nothing wrong.
“It is clear that I am not a party to the indictment, but I want to state emphatically: I only recommended job applicants who were qualified,” he said at the time. “I never gave or received any benefits from those recommendations, and I never traded jobs for votes.”
A 2010 Globe Spotlight investigation detailed extensive cronyism and disregard for merit in hiring and promotion in the Probation Department.