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No end set for corruption probe

Republican, The (Springfield, MA) (Published as Union-News (Springfield, MA)) - April 23, 2002

Author/Byline: MARLA A. GOLDBERG, STAFF, Union-News (Springfield, Mass.)

Edition: ALL
Section: News
Page: B04
SPRINGFIELD - U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday that he can't predict when an ongoing
public corruption probe in Springfield will end.
Sullivan, who met with the Union-News editorial board, acknowledged there is "an active, ongoing investigation," into possible impropriety
by government employees.
In response to questions, Sullivan said he is mindful of the community's need for closure. "We're aware of it, and we're very sensitive to
it," he said.
A federal inquiry into illegal gambling and organized crime dating back to at least 2000 spawned the public corruption probe in Springfield,
which appeared to reach a height in November. Two days after Mayor Michael J. Albano's re-election to a fourth term, at least 20 agents
from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Office raided City Hall and other sites. Albano has
said no records were seized from his office.
No indictments have been handed down in the investigation into possible municipal influence-peddling and tax evasion. However, 16
people were indicted after the initial crackdown on illegal gambling.
Sullivan, who works in Boston, denied that anti-terrorism initiatives have pushed other investigations onto the back burner, but
acknowledged that suppression of terrorism "clearly is number 1."
Besides meeting with Union-News editors, Sullivan attended the swearing-in of a seventh assistant U.S. attorney for the Springfield office,
Thomas J. O'Connor Jr. O'Connor, 34, a former assistant district attorney in the Northwestern District Attorney's office, began his new job
yesterday. A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst and the University of Virginia, he is a son of the late Thomas J. O'Connor, a
former state legislator who served two terms as Springfield's mayor beginning in 1958.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Regan, chief of the Springfield office, said he asked Sullivan for more staff because of complex cases
handled by the Springfield office, including prosecution of former nurse Kristen H. Gilbert, 34, convicted last year of murdering four
veterans and attempting to kill two others at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton.
O'Regan said there were many applicants, but O'Connor has an "excellent academic and professional background," and interned at the
Springfield office in 1996. "We knew him to be smart and hard working and a good colleague," O'Regan said.
Sullivan said that immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, "virtually every single FBI agent became a terrorism investigator."
However, Sullivan said prosecutors have since resumed investigations into gun violence, gang activity and other crimes. "It appears from
my perspective that we have adequate resources to meet all these priorities," he said.
Caption: (PHOTO 1) Michael J. Sullivan (PHOTO 2) Thomas J. O'Connor Jr.
Record: MERLIN_1799869
Copyright: Copyright, 2002, The Republican Company, Springfield, MA. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.