By Andy Metzger

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON -- Reaching back more than a decade to when they say rigged hiring in the probation department began, prosecutors Thursday played phone messages for the jury that appear to include specific directives to advance the scheme and discussion of the reasoning behind it.

Ed Dalton, who now works as game day security at Fenway Park, said he would do whatever necessary to push the commissioner's favored candidates through an intermediate interview to the final hiring panel.

"They needed to be there. How they got there was up to me," said Dalton, who retired from the department in August 2010, after 39 years.

Former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and two of his former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, are charged with a host of crimes, including conspiracy to commit racketeering for allegedly rigging hiring in the department to shuttle jobs to politically connected applicants.

The Legislature changed the appointing authority to the commissioner of probation in a 2001 law, which prosecutor Fred Wyshak has said was part of the conspiracy.

"It's been going on since day one when (O'Brien) became commissioner," Wyshak said at a hearing without the jury Wednesday.

In October 2000, Dalton became concerned about his participation in personnel matters, so he recorded answering machine messages left for him by Janet Mucci, who was the director of human resources. At the time, presiding judges retained the authority to appoint probation officers to their courts, though Dalton said they sometimes opted out of participating in interview panels and he wanted to create a record of the directions he was given.

"I wasn't responsible. I was acting as a result of what I was told to do," said Dalton, who rose through Norfolk Superior Court to become a supervisor with a broad purview in the early 1980s.

Mucci's messages, lasting between one-and-a-half and three minutes were detailed, chatty, sometimes rambling monologues, occasionally delivered in a whisper that made the words difficult to discern over the court speakers.

Prosecutor Karin Bell highlighted key portions of the messages where Mucci gave Dalton the names and spelling of preferred candidates, mused about whether there might be some "throw ins" and talked about the reasoning behind the directives, saying someone "had a meeting at the State House yesterday and he has no choice."

Mucci also passed along compliments, telling Dalton after he had been passed over for a promotion that "he said Ed was a real trooper" and advised Dalton to make some of the candidates tie - which Dalton said would allow more candidates to be packed on to the list of the top eight that went to the final round.

On one message Mucci passed along the name of Doug MacLean - the son of a former state senator who was a witness in the trial - and said "if people were uncomfortable" O'Brien would need to remove them from the process.

Former probation official Ellen Slaney previously testified that after she blocked MacLean from a probation position because of a conviction and history of substance abuse, O'Brien's "physical expression told me he was upset with me."

The inclusion of Mucci's testimony indicates she is being treated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, because on Wednesday Judge William Young agreed with defense attorneys that she would need to be a co-conspirator for the recordings she left to be introduced as evidence.