By Richard Barry, candidate for Cape & Islands District Attorney
Yesterday a federal grand jury found former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien guilty of running the probation department like a criminal enterprise, giving jobs as favors for powerful politicians for his own benefit.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe was part of this scheme. The jury returned a guilty verdict in the hiring of the daughter of a friend of O’Keefe’s who had been sponsored by O'Keefe.
The Ware Report, commissioned by the Supreme Judicial Court, provided findings that were the basis of the charges in this trial that resulted in guilty verdicts. The report focused on the Probation Department and not the politicians. Whether there will be a case involving O’Keefe and other politicians is up to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.
I would rather be commenting on the issues, the changes I would like to make to improve the District Attorney’s office. I want to understand why the probation department cut a juvenile probation officer who split time between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket five days a week, to one day a week divided between both islands when we are in the midst of a crisis of youth addiction. I want to talk about how only one ADA was in Falmouth Court Thursday, when 55 cases were scheduled and what that means to our public safety and the rights of those accused. I want to discuss conviction rates and how victims fare in this system.
But once again, we are reading a story that proves the current DA is more focused on holding the position than the job. In this latest case he showed a complete disregard for finding the most qualified person for the position over political cronyism.
Whether the stories we read are about the current DA writing letters on behalf, Joe Vaudo, convicted of selling shellfish stolen from local shellfishermen, allegations of tipping off friends to gambling investigations, or any of the other headlines in the past 13 years, it is clear that the current DA is only interested in the political power of his position and not focused on rising crime and how to address our opiate crisis.
Once elected as District Attorney I will work with the police and share what I’ve learned as a defense attorney to improve investigations into criminal activities. I will actively pursue nonprofit drug rehabilitation programs for opiate addicts. I am not interested in power or patronage, I am interested in making the Cape and Islands a safer place for our children, our visitors and the people that call this wonderful place “home.”
It’s time for a change.