By Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Federal prosecutors are bracing for a lengthy trial in the case of three former state probation officials charged with rigging the hiring process at the department to favor candidates promoted by powerful state lawmakers.

After several delays, U.S. District Court Judge William Young has set a trial date of May 5. According to court filings, prosecutors are anticipating an eight-week trial, but the judge says he’ll seek ways of shortening the case.

Young took over the case after judge Dennis Saylor reluctantly recused himself because of his friendship with a potential witness.

Ex-probation commissioner John O’Brien and former aides Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke have pleaded not guilty to a racketeering indictment.

A list of potential defense witnesses includes 96 past or present judges and 64 past or present legislators.

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