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District court probation chief named in Northampton

Probation Officer Jane M. Pendergast has been promoted to chief probation officer at Northampton District Court. Pendergast succeeds Thomas C. Foley, who died in January of cancer. A career probation officer, Foley had been probation chief at Northampton District Court since 2004.

Probation Officer Mary O’Connell is serving as assistant probation chief in district court, a position that had been held by Teresa Leary Ellison, who retired in October.

Meantime, Probation Officer Lori Sheehan transfers from the district court to Hampshire Superior Court next week, according to the state Probation Department.

In Hampshire Superior Court, Elizabeth Archer has been hired to fill one of two probation officer positions that were ordered reposted last year by an arbitrator. Archer had been working in Orange District Court the past several years.

The arbitration ruling came against the backdrop of state and federal investigations into corrupt hiring practices in the Probation Department and after a Suffolk Superior Court judge found that corruption may have been involved in previous hires in Hampshire Superior Court.

The positions in question had been filled by former acting Chief Probation Officer Christopher J. Hoffman and Maureen Adams, a probation officer.

Hoffman, of Hatfield, remains on unpaid leave and goes back on trial in U.S. District Court in July in an obstruction of justice case related to an FBI probe into corrupt hiring practices in the Probation Department.

The government’s case against Hoffman resulted in a mistrial in May. He was charged in 2011 with threatening and intimidating Adams, of Goshen, who had to vacate her post last month because of the arbitration ruling.

Permanent probation chiefs for the Hampshire and Franklin superior courts have not been hired, though interviews for those positions are being scheduled in the coming weeks, according to Coria Holland, a Probation Department spokeswoman.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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