Christopher Hoffman Trial Day 3
Fred Contrada reporting for The Republican and Masslive on Day 3 of Christopher Hoffman trial, take 2. Many technical problems. Sorry for the delay.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:25 
9:24 a.m. Defense counsel Vincent Bongoirni cross examining Maureen Adams. Adams told the FBI that Hoffman said she would be a rat of she cooperated with their corruption probe into probation hiring practices and that she would end up in jail. That led to Hoffman's charges: intimidating a witness, harassing Adams. Bongionri is suggesting that Adams wanted the acting probation chief job that Hoffman got and that she had no direct knowledge of some things she told the BI, e.g. that Hoffman lved down the street from Depty Probation Commissioner William Burke.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:29 
9:29 a.m. Burke, Commissioner John J. O'Brien and 2nd Deupty Commissioner Elizabeth Tavarez have all been charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and bribery. All have pleaded innocent. None has gone to trial yet.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:32 
9:31 a.m. This is the second time Adams has taken the stand against Hoffman. His original trial in May ended in a hing jury. Hoffman was acting probation chief in Hampshire Superior Court probation department.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:33 
9:32 a.m. There is some unclarity about whether or not Adams said Hoffman was joking when he made his "rat" comment. Adams said he has a "passive aggressive" way of appearing to joke while he is serious.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:34 
9:33 a.m. Bongoirni and Adams are battling now. He's asking her to answer for her previous testimony, suggesting it differs from her current testimony. She is trying to clarify but he wants her to answer directly yes of no to the questions.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:35 
9:34 a.m. Bongiorni: Hoffman told you you would go to jail in a week. That didn't make any sense to you. Why would you go to jail?
Adams agrees.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:38 
9:37 a.m. Bongiorni is an experienced criminal defender. His high profile clients have included Suzanne D'Amour and some Springfield so-call mob bosses.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:40 
9:39 a.m. Bongiorni is questioning Adams' memory. She says she can remember the order of everything.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:41 
9:40 a.m. BTW We are in U.S. District Court in Worcester. The case is being heard by Judge Timothy Hillman.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:42 
9:41 a.m. Some discussion of allegation that people used a probation van to attend political events. The van apparently was privately owned by Burke, a Hatfield resident. Adams now says she didn't know who owned the van.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:44 
9:43 a.m. Bongiorni: Did you believe the ladies in the office overheard Hoffman telling you to tell the truth?
Adams: I can't remember if the door was open or closed.
B: It was possible they heard.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:48 
9:47 a.m. Bongiorni had a habit of looking towards the jurors when he is questioning the witness.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:49 
9:48 a.m. Bongiorni: You went around and asked people if they heard what Hoffman yelled out.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:52 
9:51 a.m. Bongiorni: You knew that though Sean McDonald (another probation officer) and Hoffman had once been friends there were now very bitter feelings between them.
Adams: I saw disrespect from everyone in the office.
B: You'd give Hoffman the finger behind his back.
A: I don't remember that.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:54 
9:53 a.m. Bongiorni: You said you were shocked when the commissioner suspended Chris Hoffman.
Adams: No.
B: You told a colleague you had no idea if I sent an email Hoffman would be suspended.
A: Nothing shocks me any more.
B: Did the FBI ask you to leave out that Hoffman told you to tell the truth?
A: I don't remember what I told the FBI.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:58 
9:57 a.m. This is perhaps the key witness for the government and Bongiorni is giving her a very hard going over.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 9:59 
9:58 a.m. The jury consists of nine men and five women. Two will be chosen as alternates after closing arguments and cannot deliberate.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:01 
10:01 a.m. Bongiorni: You told a colleague you walked with that Hoffman committed obstruction of justice. She said, 'Maureen, I was there. That's not what happened.' She stopped talking to you for a reason.
Adams: I don't know.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:04 
10:03 a.m. Bongiorni: Two women didn't back you up to the grand jury. You told the FBI that you heard they were going to fabricate a plot to testify falsely.
Adams: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:07 
10:06 a.m. Bongiorni is demanding that Adams answer his questions directly. Adams keeps asking him to repeat them.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:09 
10:08 a.m. Bongiorni: You told the FBI that Hoffman's parents were best friends with Bill Burke?
Adams: I believe what I told.
B: Hoffman's father died when Hoffman was 2, 3 years old. Burke if about 70, a full-grown man by the time Hoffman was born. You had never seen Hoffman socialize with Burke at Joe's Cafe of any sporting event. You only saw them at the courthouse and they didn't appear to be friends.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:14 
10:13 a.m. Bongiorni is asking Adams what she told the FBI about Hoffman. She is saying she doesn't know.
B: You told the FBI agent that Hoffman's job is something you would apply for.
Adams: I knew I wouldn't get the position.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:15 
A: No (Cap key stuck)
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:17 
10:16 a.m. Bongiorni: Did you and Hoffman have a heated argument in the middle of the office?
Adams: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:19 
10:18 a.m. Asst. U.S. Atty Karen Bell on redirect.
Bell: What did you hear the two women were going to say.
Adams: That Hoffman sang a rat song to me.
Bell: Was that true.
Adams: No.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:20 
10:19 a.m. Bell: You told FBI that Hoffman may have been hand-picked by Burke. What was that based on.
Adams: It was common knowledge in the trial court.
(Bongiorni objects. Hillman sustains).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:22 
10:21 a.m. (Sidebar) (Sometimes they do this to work out the rules of testimony before a sequence of questions to make surer the testimony is admissible and properly solicited).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:24 
10:23 a.m. Hoffman, as before his trial, has a shaved head. He seems calm, perhaps has put on some weight. I haven't heard him speak in the courtroom. Some of his friends or family is here to support him.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:25 
10:25 a.m. Bell: You told FBI that Hoffman was bartender at Joe's Cafe and Mr. Burke went to Joe's Cafe. That Burke and Hoffman had a close relationship. Did you believe that was true?
Adas: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:27 
10:26 a.m. Bell: You saw Burke and Hoffman in a probation van go to a Petrolotti fund-raiser.
Adams: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:29 
10:28 a.m. Bell: You were there when Hoffman came to the courtroom and told you to come back and tell him what you said to the FBI. When he asked 'What did they say about me?'
Adams: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:30 
10:29 a.m. Bell: When you first went to the defendant's office, he told you, "Don't lie."
Adams: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:34 
10:33 a.m. Adams has been on the stand since yesterday.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:35 
10:34 a.m. Bell: Did you find Hoffman's comments disrespectful to women?
Adams: Yes. I don't understand why they would laugh.
Bell: When Hoffman said he was going to tell everyone you were a rat who did you think he was going to tell.
Adams: I didn't think about that.
Bell done with redirect. Bongionri on re-cross.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:39 
10:38 a.m. Hillman calls the morning break. Back in 10-15 minutes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 10:40 
11:02 a.m. Court back in session. Jury entering.
Prosecution calls Dominic Barbara, special agent for the FBI. Asst. U.S. Atty Robert A. Fisher questioning him.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:05 
11:04 a.m. Barbara works out of Springfield, white collar crime, organized crime, insurance fraud, etc.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:06 
11:05 a.m. Oct. 2011 working on statewide probation case. Barbara the Western Mass. coordinator. In Springfield, he says, it started with state Rep. Thomas Petrolotti. We interviewed witnesses in the western part of the state.
Fisher: Oct. 18, 2011. Who did you interview?
Barbara: Maureen Adams.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:08 
11:07 a.m. Barbara: I introduced myself. We talked at Friendlies on King St. In Northampton. We asked her about how the probation department ran.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:10 
11:10 a.m. Barbara: She stated she'd been a probation officer for ten years, that her immediate supervisor was the defendant, that Hoffman was close with Burke, that he tended bar at a restaurant where Burke was a regular. Adams said she had concerns about coming forward, that Hoffman joking said "I'm gonna tell everybody you're a rat with the FBI."
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:13 
11:12 a.m. (I'm told that Bruke, Adams and Tavaraz can expect to come to trial in January).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:14 
11:13 a.m. Barbara: We told Adams she should start documenting this and tell her superiors (other than Burke) what was going on. She seemed upset, nervous.
Fisher: Did you ask Adams if she understood "rat" to be a joke.
Barbara: She clearly didn't think of it as a joke.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:16 
11:16 a.m. Barbara: We talked 25-30 minutes. She said she had to tell Hoffman what was said. She said she was concerned about retribution, being blackballed. I told her that was the old system.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:19 
11:18 a.m. Barbara: She called me the next day, said Hoffman did ask her about the interview, that she was able to put him off, that Hoffman told her he was not that close to Dept Commissioner Burke.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:20 
11:20 a.m. Barbara: Adams said 2 other prob. officers would have info about probation van being used. On Nov. 9 I met Adams again in parking lot across from the courthouse. She gave me a copy of the letter she sent to Commissioner Corbett.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:24 
11:23 a.m. Barbara: Adams said Hoffman told her "Don't lie."
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:28 
11:27 a.m. Barbara still on stand. Talks about his interviewing experience.
Fisher: It's a crime to lie to the FBI.
Barbara: Yes.
Fisher: (Wants to ask Barbara of he believed Adams but Bongiorni is objecting to the line of questioning and Hillman is sustaining him).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:31 
11:30 a.m. Fisher done. Bongiorni on cross.
Bongiorni: By Oct. 2011, Globe Spotlight article had publicized the probation issue. By then the investigation wasn't "embryonic."
Barbara: Right.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:34 
11:33 a.m. Bongiorni: You are also an attorney. It's important to distinguish fact from hearsay. You didn't warn Adams against lying to the FBI. She told you she would have applied for Hoffman's position if it had been posted.
Barbara: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:37 
11:36 a.m. Bongiorni: Did you ask Adams where and when the "rat" comment was made.
Barbara: I determined it was in the office.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:40 
11:39 a.m. Bongiorni: Where the comment happened is not in your report.
Barbara: No.
Bongiorni: Did she tell you Hoffman offered Adams the union lawyer?
Barbara: No.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:43 
11:42 a.m. Bongiorni: When the FBI has eyes on a target they tend to put pressure on people associated with the target.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:46 
11:45 a.m. Bongiorni: Did you ask if the "rat" statement took place in front of other people?
Barbara: No.
Bongiorni: Adams told you there was a probation dept. van used to take people to Petrolotti fund-raiser. That would be a violation of state law. You checked that out.
Barbara: Van not owned by the state.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:52 
11:51 a.m. Bongiorni: Have you researched the relationship between Hoffman and Burke? That Hoffman became a probation officer in 2001. That Burke was about 70? That Hoffman in his late 30s?
Barbara: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:56 
11:55 a.m. Bongiorni: Did you make it clear to Adams that you wanted facts?
Barbara: It was more conversational than dictatorial.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 11:58 
11:57 a.m. Bongiorni done with cross. Fisher on re-direct. Hillman takes second morning break. Back ibn 10-15 minutes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:01 
12:13 p.m. Still in recess. There are other probation officers here waiting to testify.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:15 
12:14 p.m. Jury entering.
Fisher questioning Agent Barbara on redirect.
Fisher: Did you investigate whether Mr. Corbett was on the stright and narrow and could be trusted?
Barbara: No.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:18 
12:17 p.m. Fisher: 2 different tracks of the investigation.
Barbara: Broad investigation on a number of different levels. There were different teams of investigators and prosecutors. In Springfield we referred to it as "the Petrolotti case." We lagged a little behind the Boston investigation.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:20 
12:19 p.m. Barbara testifies that Adams said Hoffman told her to come back and report what the FBI asked her. Says that probation employees went in the van to the fundraiser (though it was not owned by the state).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:23 
12:22 P.M. FBI Agent Barbara on the stand. Asked if the "rat" comment was phrased as a joke. (They go sidebar).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:25 
12:24 p.m. Hillman is letting Fisher question Barbara about the "rat" satement.
Barbara: It was stated as a joke but it was no joke to Miss Adams.
(Bongiorni objects. Hillman sustains.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:26 
12:25 p.m. Bongiorni: Petrolotti hasn't been indicted for anything.
Barbara: The FBI report mentions Petrolotti and his wife.
Bongiorni: We're not talking about 3 pages.
Barbara steps down.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:28 
12:27 p.m. Prosecution calls Jason Harder, probation officer in Eastern Hampshire District Court. Started probation career in Hampden. Supervises probation cases. Knows Hoffman from when he was employed in Hampden Superior Court. They were both there then. Not personal friends.
Harden: We had a conversation about how we got our jobs. Hoffman said Billy Burke helped him get a probation job.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:32 
12:31 p.m. Harder: Hoffman advised me to "shut up and go along and play the game and you'll get ahead."
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:34 
12:33 p.m. Harder: I took that to mean that if you cooperate and do what the higher ups tell you to do, then you will get ahead in your job.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:35 
12:34 p.m. 2005 Harder applied for a position in Northampton. He didn't get the job. Hoffman applied for same job and got it. Harder approached Hoffman and told him he was upset with the process.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:38 
12:37 p.m. Hoffman told Harder that Billy Burke told him to apply for the Northampton job.
Fisher: Was Burke instrumental in deciding you was going to get jobs in the Western part of the state.
(Bongiorni objects. Sustains. No answer).
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:40 
12:39 p.m. Fisher questioning Jason Harder, who was a union steward in probation.
Harder: I filed a grievance about Hoffman getting the job over me. Hoffman told me about knowing the Burke family, growing up in Hatfield. They had a friendly relationship.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:44 
12:43 p.m. Harder: Never been to a Petrolotti fund-raiser, has seen Burke and Hoffman at Joe's Cafe.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:45 
12:44 p.m. Fisher done. Bongiorni on cross.
Bongiorni: Northampton case load is less, a sort of coveted place to go to work. Did Hoffman do his job in Hampden?
Harder: Yes.
Bongiorni: Hoffman got hired in 2001, you in 2000. You and Hoffman both vets, both had BAs and MAs. You reached out to your state senator, Veterans Agent Bob Cahillane.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:49 
12:48 p.m. Bongiorni: When you didn't get the Northampton job, you got upset and stopped talking to Hoffman, but you realized that was unfair.
Harder: Yes.
Bongiorni: Old regime left and new people came in at probation department. You applied for the position again and didn't get it.
Harder: Yes.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:52 
12:51 p.m. Hillman is adjourning court. Tomorrow they will go until 4 p.m. he says. Back tomorrow at 9.
Wednesday July 17, 2013 12:54 
[Comment From Guest Guest : ] 
Great coverage Fred. I can bet there are a lot of people watching this. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The untouchable atmosphere in that department is overwhelming. Until now......
Wednesday July 17, 2013 3:29 Guest
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