Former Plymouth County Commissioner and Pest Control Company Settle Attempted Bid-Rigging Allegations
BOSTON – Allegations that former Plymouth County Commissioner Timothy McMullen participated in a bid-rigging scheme by providing inside information to the owner of a pest control company have been settled, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“The public procurement process is essential both to competition for government contracts and to open government,” AG Coakley said. “Companies and public officials alike must understand that agreements to subvert that process are unacceptable and diminish public trust.”
As part of the settlement, McMullen and Edward Burgess, the owner of Capeway Pest Control, will each pay the Commonwealth $5,000 in penalties and $2,500 in costs and agree not to engage in unlawful bidding practices in the future. The consent decrees were filed today along with a complaint in Plymouth County Superior Court. The allegations and AG’s investigation stem from a 2010 Inspector General’s report.
“When public officials tip-off bidders it undermines the integrity of the public bidding process, cheats taxpayers, and discourages legitimate businesses from competing for public contracts,” Inspector General Gregory Sullivan said
According to the complaint, Plymouth County put its pest control contract for seven county buildings out for quotes in January 2010. The county received three quotes of which Capeway Pest was not the lowest and therefore was ineligible to win the contract according to state law. Two of the quotes were over $5,000 with the third being less than $5,000.
The complaint alleges that in the days before the vote on the contract by the Board of Commissioners, Burgess spoke on multiple occasions with then Commissioner McMullen. During at least one of their phone conversations McMullen allegedly provided non-public inside information by informing Burgess that Capeway Pest did not submit the lowest quote..
Using this inside information, Capeway Pest submitted a new quote that exactly matched the previous low quote. The attempt to subvert the procurement process was uncovered prior to the vote on the pest control contract, and the original low quote was accepted.
Attorney General Coakley wishes to thank the Office of the Inspector General for its work in investigating and reporting on the underlying conduct in this case, and its cooperation and assistance in this office’s investigation of the matter.
This case was handled by Michael Franck, Assistant Attorney General in Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Antitrust Division.