WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The former acting head of the Hampshire Superior Court probation department was sentenced Friday to two years' probation for witness tampering and attempted harassment in a federal investigation of patronage in the state Probation Department.

The Springfield Republican reports (http://bit.ly/1auGsG9) Christopher Hoffman said at his sentencing hearing in federal court in Worcester that he never intended to thwart anyone, and said he was concerned how a prison sentence would affect his two young sons.

"I hope I am allowed an opportunity to see what is best for them," he said.

He was convicted in July of improperly pressuring a subordinate being interviewed by the FBI. Prosecutors, who sought a 21-month prison sentence, said Hoffman was afraid the witness would jeopardize his job.

Judge Timothy Hillman said Hoffman's actions were unplanned, and fueled by "statewide panic" over the probation investigation.

Hoffman is the first to be convicted and sentenced in the investigation, which also resulted in conspiracy, fraud and bribery charges against former probation commissioner John J. O'Brien and two deputies, one a friend of Hoffman's, William Burke. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial next year.

Some of Hoffman's family members cried when he received probation, and supporters clapped outside the courtroom afterward.

His probation includes six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Hillman also fined Hoffman $5,000 and ordered him to design a plan for 100 hours of community service he will perform.


Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/