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FILE - In this July 15, 2014 file photo, former Massachusetts state probation commissioner John O'Brien walks out of federal court in Boston after closing arguments in his trial for rigging the department's hiring process to favor politically-connected applicants over more qualified ones. After seven days of deliberations, a jury convicted O'Brien and one of his deputies, Elizabeth Tavares, Thursday, July 24, 2014, on charges of racketeering and mail fraud.  Another former deputy, William Burke, was acquitted. (AP Photo/File)

Three guilty in probation hiring case

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BOSTON — Former state probation commissioner John O’Brien was convicted Thursday of rigging the department’s hiring process to favor politically connected applicants over those who were more qualified. The guilty verdict on charges of racketeering and mail fraud came after seven days of deliberations in a case that focused attention on the patronage culture in Massachusetts state government. The jury also convicted one of O’Brien’s former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares, of racketeering and mail fraud. Another former official, William Burke, was convicted of a racketeering conspiracy charge but acquitted of mail fraud. O’Brien’s wife, Laurie, fainted as the verdict was read and was taken to a … 0

House approves abortion clinic bill

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BOSTON — The Massachusetts House approved a bill on Wednesday designed to tighten security around abortion clinics. The bill would let police disperse one or more individuals who are substantially impeding access to a clinic. After a dispersal order is issued in writing, those individuals would have to stay at least 25 feet from the clinic’s entrances for up to eight hours. The … 0

Westfield man dies while scuba diving

Thursday, July 24, 2014

MARBLEHEAD (AP) — Authorities say a 58-year-old Westfield man has died while scuba diving off the coast of Marblehead. The Essex district attorney’s office says Gregory Cole was scallop diving off a moored boat with two other people on Tuesday. The operator of the boat notified the harbormaster at about 10:15 a.m. that one of the divers had not resurfaced. The state police … 0

Compounding pharmacy oversight changes signed

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Two years after a deadly nationwide meningitis outbreak linked to a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday signed a law he said would address a “gray area” between state and federal oversight of the pharmacies. The measure includes new licensing and labeling … 0

State reports progress in fixing hobbled health website

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BOSTON — State officials are offering an upbeat assessment of efforts to repair the state’s hobbled health insurance website. Maydad Cohen, special assistant to Gov. Deval Patrick, told the state’s health connector board on Thursday that new software purchased by the state passed initial tests with flying colors. … 0

Speaker denies ‘quid pro quo’ in probation hiring

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BOSTON — Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday strongly denied assertions by prosecutors at the federal trial of the state’s former probation department commissioner that DeLeo traded jobs for votes or deliberately spared the agency from the … 0

House lawmakers OK tighter gun laws

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BOSTON — Massachusetts House lawmakers approved a sweeping bill Wednesday designed to tighten the state’s gun laws. The bill, which passed on a 112-38 vote, would strengthen local police chiefs’ discretion over issuing firearms identification cards needed for the purchase of rifles or shotguns, much like the discretion … 0

Group forms to oppose casino ballot question

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BOSTON — A new political committee has formed to oppose a ballot question that would repeal Massachusetts’ 2011 casino law. The Committee to Preserve Jobs Associated with Casino Gaming Law filed papers Wednesday with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. The committee’s stated goal is to … 0

Geraldine Hines to join state’s highest court as first black justice

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick’s nominee to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was approved on Wednesday, making Geraldine Hines the first black woman to sit on the high court. The Governor’s Council voted 8-0 to approve appeals court judge Hines for a spot on the seven-member court. Patrick … 0

Blackstone boy dies after swim test

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MILFORD (AP) — A 10-year-old Blackstone boy went into cardiac arrest during a swimming test at a Milford pool and later died, police and relatives say. Alexander Cora died Monday night at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Chief Thomas O’Loughlin said. He apparently had an undiagnosed heart … 0

Counselor indicted on child rape charges

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (AP) — A grand jury has indicted a former North Attleborough Middle School guidance counselor and music teacher on charges that he had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student. The Sun Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1r8caUi) reports that Brian McBride of Attleboro is scheduled to be arraigned in … 0

MIT develops ‘seeing-eye ring’ that reads to the blind

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CAMBRIDGE — Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. The … 0

State lawmakers set to weigh revised gun bill

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BOSTON — House lawmakers are gearing up to debate a sweeping bill designed to tighten Massachusetts’ already tough gun laws. An updated version of the bill, set for discussion Wednesday, would require police chiefs or other licensing authorities to give reasons for denying gun licenses to individuals seeking … 0