A former acting chief probation officer in Western Massachusetts was arrested and charged on two federal obstruction of justice charges Wednesday as part of the federal investigation into the state probation department's hiring practices. 39-year-old Christopher Hoffman was interim chief of the probation office in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton until he was suspended in October. His arrest marks the first criminal charges stemming from the federal investigation into the probation department’s hiring system, which allegedly involved giving hundreds of jobs to candidates based on political and personal connections.
The US Department of Justice is accusing Hoffman, a Hatfield resident, of pressuring a probation officer not to cooperate with federal authorities. He allegedly told her he would "tell everyone that you are a rat." He also told her she would end up in jail, according to authorities, and tried to influence the statements she would make to the FBI.
After an appearance in us district court in Worcester, Hoffman was released. His attorney is Vincent Bongiorni.
"He was released on conditions, an unsecured bond and to have no contact with people in the probation department, past or present. he hasn't been indicted and as far as I'm concerned his reputation is spotless."
Hoffman is charged with intimidating and harassing a witness and, if convicted, faces up to 20 years in prison.
A copy of the affidavit follows:
Affidavit of Special Agent Kevin D. Constantine
I, Kevin D. Constantine, being duly sworn, state that the following is true to the best of
my knowledge, information and belief:
1. I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) in the
Boston Division and I have been employed by the FBI for 15 years. I am authorized to
investigate violations of the laws of the United States and I have the authority to execute federal
arrest and search warrants. As an FBI agent, I have directed, conducted, and participated in
many investigations, including investigations of public corruption offenses. During those
investigations, I have executed search and arrest warrants, utilized informants, interviewed
witnesses, conducted surveillance and participated in trials.
2. This affidavit is submitted in support of an arrest warrant for CHRISTOPHER
HOFFMAN. Based on the facts set forth herein, there is probable cause to believe that
HOFFMAN obstructed justice in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1512(b)(3)
and 1512(d)(2). The information described in this affidavit is based on my own personal
knowledge and information that I have received from other law enforcement officers involved in
this investigation. This affidavit does not contain all facts known to me regarding this
investigation; rather, it contains those facts necessary to establish probable cause for issuance of
the requested warrant to arrest HOFFMAN.
3. Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(b)(3) makes it illegal for any person
knowingly to use or attempt to use intimidation, threats or corrupt persuasion, or to engage in
misleading conduct toward another person, with the intent to hinder, delay or prevent
communication with a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States regarding
information related to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense.
4. Similarly, Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(d)(2) makes it illegal for
any person intentionally to harass another person, or attempt to do so, and thereby hinder, delay,
prevent or dissuade the person from reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United
States information regarding the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense.
5. HOFFMAN began working as an associate probation officer in or about 2001.
He became a probation officer in 2004. In 2008, he was promoted to Acting Assistant Chief
Probation Officer in Greenfield District Court. In 2009, HOFFMAN was promoted to Acting
Chief of the Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton, Massachusetts. HOFFMAN held that
position until on or about October 26, 2011 when he was placed on administrative leave.
6. From in or about 2001 to the present, Maureen Adams has been employed as a
probation officer in the Hampshire Superior Court. From in or about 2009 to on or about
October 26, 2011, HOFFMAN was Adams’ direct supervisor.
7. On or about October 18, 2011, FBI Special Agent Dominic Barbara (“Agent
Barbara”) called Adams to set up an interview regarding an ongoing federal investigation into
fraudulent hiring practices within the Office of the Commissioner of Probation (“OCP”). Adams
agreed to be interviewed and the interview was scheduled for 3:00 pm on October 19, 2011.
8. Following the telephone call from Agent Barbara, Adams went to HOFFMAN’S
office to tell him she would need to leave work at 3:00 pm the following day for an interview
with the FBI. HOFFMAN understood that the purpose of Adams’ interview was to discuss the
alleged fraudulent hiring practices within OCP.
9. At the time Adams told HOFFMAN about her interview, HOFFMAN knew there
was an ongoing federal investigation regarding the alleged fraudulent hiring practices within
OCP. Indeed, the FBI interviewed HOFFMAN in connection with this investigation on August
10. After Adams told HOFFMAN about her interview, HOFFMAN made several
comments to her throughout that day and the following day, October 19, 2011, prior to her
interview. In sum and substance, HOFFMAN said the following to Adams prior to her interview
with the FBI:
I will tell everyone that you are a rat;
You will be in jail within a week;
After the interview, you have to come back and tell me everything that
they ask you and everything that you said;
I only knew [Deputy Commissioner] Bill Burke because we grew up
together in Hatfield, and I knew him as “Mr. Burke;”
I only got to know Bill Burke once I became a probation officer [in 2001].
11. HOFFMAN made each of the above-referenced statements while at work in the
Hampshire Superior Court. The statements referenced in paragraph 10, subsections (D) and (E),
regarding HOFFMAN’S relationship with Deputy Commissioner William Burke were
unsolicited. Based on her experience working for the probation department since 2001 and her
understanding of HOFFMAN and Burke’s relationship, Adams believed those statements to be
false. Adams believed that the statements were made so that she would repeat them to the FBI if
asked about HOFFMAN and Burke’s relationship.
12. Adams believed that all of HOFFMAN’S statements were intended to intimidate
her regarding her upcoming interview the FBI, and to influence her statements to the FBI,
particularly with respect to any questions regarding HOFFMAN’S relationship with Deputy
Commissioner William Burke.
13. As HOFFMAN was her direct supervisor, Adams felt intimidated by
HOFFMAN’S statements. In particular, Adams feared retribution by HOFFMAN, Burke and
others as a result of her interview with the FBI. She became concerned for her job security.
14. Adams met with the FBI on October 19, 2011, as scheduled. The interview took
place at Friendly’s Restaurant in Northampton, Massachusetts. When Adams arrived for the
interview, she looked and sounded upset. She told Agent Barbara about HOFFMAN’S recent
statements and expressed her concern that she would face recrimination as a result of her
meeting with the FBI.
15. Following the interview, Adams returned to her office in the Hampshire Superior
Court. Shortly after, HOFFMAN came into her office and shut the door. HOFFMAN asked
Adams whether she had discussed him (HOFFMAN) with the FBI. Adams said yes.
HOFFMAN then left Adams’ office without saying anything.
16. The following day, October 20, 2011, Adams sent an email to the Commissioner
of OCP, Ronald Corbett. In that email, Adams told Corbett about some of the statements
HOFFMAN made to her prior to her interview with the FBI. Adams also relayed the
conversation she had with HOFFMAN after her interview with the FBI. Adams told
Commissioner Corbett that she had “concerns about retribution since he [HOFFMAN] is aware
of my speaking to the FBI, as well as this email.”
17. Based on the foregoing, there is probable cause to believe that HOFFMAN
obstructed justice by knowingly using intimidation and threats, and engaging in misleading
conduct toward Adams, with the intent to hinder, delay and prevent her from communicating
with the FBI regarding the federal investigation into the alleged fraudulent hiring practices at
OCP. In addition, there is probable cause to believe that HOFFMAN obstructed justice by
intentionally harassing Adams in an attempt to hinder, delay, prevent and dissuade her from
reporting information regarding the fraudulent hiring practices at OCP to the FBI.
WHEREFORE, this is probable cause to arrest HOFFMAN for violation of Title 18,
United States Code, Sections 1512(b)(3) and 1512(d)(2).
Kevin D. Constantine
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Subscribed and sworn to before me this day of December 2011.
Timothy S. Hillman
United States Magistrate Judge