January 30, 2014
The State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) and Alesandro Basile (“Basile”) enter into this Disposition Agreement pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission’s Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented-to final order enforceable in the Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(j).
On February 15, 2013, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A by Basile. On November 21, 2013, the Commission concluded its inquiry and found reasonable cause to believe that Basile violated G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2)(ii).
The Commission and Basile now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
- Basile, who resides in Rowley, began work at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office (“SCSO”) in May 1986. Basile was promoted to the rank of captain in January 2010.
- The SCSO runs the Suffolk County Jail (the “Jail”) in Boston. As a captain, Basile was an SCSO shift commander at the Jail. Correctional officers report to the shift commander on duty.
- Basile owns an apartment building in East Boston (the “Building”). In early fall 2010, Basile rented one of the apartments in the building to a husband and wife who spoke Spanish and limited English.
- On November 2, 2010, Basile was working as the shift commander at the Jail in Boston. Basile asked a correctional officer who spoke Spanish if he would drive Basile during the dinner break to the Building and serve as an interpreter for Basile with his tenants. The correctional officer agreed to Basile’s request to drive him to the Building and serve as his interpreter.
- Basile and the correctional officer left the SCSO facility during the dinner break and drove to the Building in an SCSO cruiser. Basile was in full SCSO uniform. The correctional officer was also in full uniform. In addition, he was carrying a gun, pepper spray and baton, all of which were visible.
- When they arrived at the Building, Basile rang the doorbell and the tenants told Basile and the correctional officer to come in. During the conversation between Basile and the tenants, which lasted about 30 minutes, for which the correctional officer served as interpreter, Basile asked the couple to pay an additional $100 monthly rent for another family member that was staying at the apartment. The couple agreed to pay the additional rent. Basile and the correctional officer then left the Building and returned to the Jail.
- About a day later, Basile gave the correctional officer the tenants’ telephone number and asked him (the correctional officer) to call the tenants and tell them that there would not be a rent increase. The correctional officer complied with Basile’s request.
- Basile retired from the SCSO on November 14, 2012.
Conclusions of Law
- Section 23(b)(2)(ii) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a state employee from, knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
- By asking the correctional officer to accompany him to the Building in a marked SCSO cruiser, while both men were in SCSO uniform and the correctional officer was visibly armed with a gun, pepper spray and baton, Basile used his SCSO position in connection with a request for additional rent.
- Under the inherently exploitive nature of the circumstances, the request for additional rent was an unwarranted privilege. See In re Bretschneider, 2007 SEC 2082 (sheriff violated G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2) by arriving in a sheriff department cruiser in uniform and discussing purchase of property with person on whom he was serving eviction papers as sheriff).
- The additional monthly rent of $100 was of substantial value.
- The privilege of a rent increase obtained through such intimidation was not properly available to similarly situated individuals (i.e., other landlords seeking a rent increase).
- Therefore, by, in the manner described above, using his official position as SCSO captain to solicit additional monthly rent of $100 from his tenants, Basile knowingly used his official position to obtain for himself an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other similarly situated individuals, thereby violating § 23(b)(2)(ii).
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Basile, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings, on the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by Basile:
(1) that Basile pay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the Commission, the sum of $1,000 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2)(ii); and
(2) that Basile waive all rights to contest, in this or any other administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement.
By signing below, Alesandro Basile acknowledges that he has personally read this Disposition Agreement, that it is a public document, and that he agrees to all of the terms and conditions therein.
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
Karen L. Nober Date