ORDER           

This adjudicatory proceeding commenced on July 7, 2010, with the filing of an Order to Show Cause (“OTSC”) against Respondent Kathryn Christopher, the former Home Care Coordinator for the Council on Aging (“COA”) in the Town of Belmont (“Town”).  The OTSC alleged that Christopher repeatedly violated G.L. c. 268A,

§§ 17(a),[1]/ 19,[2]/  23(b)(1),[3]/ 23(b)(2)[4]/ and 23(b)(3)[5]/ by (1) coordinating services for an elderly COA client (“Client”) and selecting herself to provide those services to the Client for private compensation; (2) accessing the Client’s funds and assets to pay for Christopher’s personal and family expenses; and (3) using those funds and assets for the benefit of Christopher and her family.  Christopher filed an Answer on July 29, 2010, denying most of the factual assertions in the OTSC and denying all of the alleged violations.

On September 15, 2011, Superior Court indictments were handed down charging Christopher with four felony offenses related to the actions alleged in the OTSC.  Based on the pendency of the criminal case, Christopher, Petitioner and/or both moved and received a number of stays of the adjudicatory hearing pending the outcome of the criminal case.  As a result of the trial of the criminal case in March 2015, Christopher was convicted on one criminal charge, obtaining a signature by false pretense, under G.L. c. 266, § 31, and was sentenced to a term of probation for five years.  As a condition of her probation, she is prohibited from working with the elderly or being employed by an elder services provider or acting as a care giver for any person over 65.         

On August 3, 2015, pursuant to 930 CMR 1.01(6)(a),[6]/ the parties filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss the Proceedings (“Joint Motion”).  In their Joint Motion, the parties assert that dismissal of the adjudicatory proceeding is in the interests of justice and merited for the following reasons.  The conduct for which Christopher was convicted and sentenced directly relates to the adjudicatory proceeding.  In addition, because the judge imposed stringent conditions of probation that appropriately punish Christopher for her conduct, an additional civil penalty imposed by the Commission would not be warranted.[7] Since 2007, Christopher has incurred over $100,000 in legal expenses relating to the probate of the estate and the related civil and criminal actions.  As a result of her criminal conviction and conditions of probation, Christopher has been terminated from her employment providing care to the elderly and is presently unemployed.  She relinquished her rights under the Client’s 2004 last will and testament which had named her as a beneficiary.  Finally, in 2007, after the allegations regarding her relationship with the Client were first made, she was fired from her position with the Town’s COA.   

WHEREFORE, the Commission ALLOWS the Joint Motion.  Commission Adjudicatory Docket No. 10-00111, In Re Kathryn Christopher, is hereby dismissed.

 

  //signed//                                            
Barbara A. Dortch-Okara                               

  //signed//                         
William J. Trach

  //signed//                                         
Regina L. Quinlan   

                                  
  //signed//                         
David A. Mills                                                                       

 

DATE AUTHORIZED:  September 16, 2015
DATE ISSUED:              October 6, 2015

cc:       

Karen Gray
Senior Staff Counsel, Enforcement Division
State Ethics Commission
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA 02108
(By Email)

 

Robert G. Wilson, IV, Esq.                    
Swiggart & Agin, LLC                      
197 Portland Street, Fourth Floor       
Boston, MA 02114                             
(By Email)                                                                                                             

 


1/  Section 17(a) prohibits a municipal employee, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties, from directly or indirectly receiving or requesting compensation from anyone other than the city or town or municipal agency in relation to any particular matter in which the same city or town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.   
2/  Section 19 prohibits a municipal employee from participating in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or an immediate family member, has a financial interest. 
[3]/  Section 23(b)(1) prohibits a municipal employee from knowingly or with reason to know, accepting other employment involving compensation of substantial value ($50 or more), the responsibilities of which are inherently incompatible with the responsibilities of his public office. 
[4]/  Section 23(b)(2) prohibits a municipal employee from knowingly or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others an unwarranted privilege or exemption of substantial value ($50 or more) which is not properly available to similarly situated individuals.    
[5]/  Section 23(b)(3) prohibits a municipal employee from knowingly or with reason to know, acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that any person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties or that he is likely to act or fail to act as a result of kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party or person.    
[6]/  That regulation provides in relevant part that “only the Commission may terminate an Adjudicatory Proceeding.”
[7]/  Because the alleged violations occurred prior to the effective date of the increase in the civil penalties for violations of G.L. c. 268A, the maximum civil penalty in this matter is $2,000 per violation.