IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL FREDRICKSON
Date: October 9, 2003
The State Ethics Commission and Michael Fredrickson 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, s. 4(j).
On September 5, 2002, the Commission initiated, pursuant to
G.L. c. 26813, s. 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible
violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by
Fredrickson. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on April
14, 2003, found reasonable cause to believe that Fredrickson
violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Fredrickson now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Findings of Fact
1. Fredrickson is the Board of Bar Overseers ("the BBO")
general counsel. In the Commission's view, the BBO is a state
agency within the meaning of G.L. c. 268A.
2. During the time relevant, Fredrickson supervised a staff
comprising several attorneys and three administrative assistants.
Fredrickson and his administrative assistants did not socialize
outside of the office.
3. Fredrickson's appointing authority is the twelve-member
BBO, which oversees all attorneys registered to practice law in the
state. During the time relevant, the board members, being
volunteers, were only occasionally on site at the BBO office.
4. In the mid-1990s, Fredrickson began writing a mystery novel
A Cinderella Affidavit. That novel was published in May 1999.
5. In 1997, Fredrickson began writing a second novel, Witness
Dead. It was published in May 2001.
6. Fredrickson spent substantial time during his regular BBO
office hours writing and preparing his novels for publication. This
included time spent almost daily in his office, working on his
office computer, and up to five hours per week immediately after
each novel was published.
 Pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(p), a state agency is
defined as any department of a state government, including the
judicial branch, and including "any division, board, bureau,
commission, institution, tribunal or other instrumentality within
such department." The Supreme Judicial Court created the BBO in
1974 as an administrative body under the SJC's supervision.
7. In the course of writing and preparing his novels for
publication, Fredrickson requested his administrative assistants to
perform novel-related tasks for him, The assistants spent
substantial time during their regular BBO office hours performing
the following tasks: making photocopies, addressing correspondence,
faxing documents, making telephone calls, and mailing items. They
also instructed Fredrickson in the use of the office equipment,
such as his computer, the printer and the postage meter. These
tasks were performed by the assistants sporadically throughout the
years in question.
8. Fredrickson knew that his administrative assistants were
performing novel-related work for him during their office hours.
9. Because Fredrickson was their supervisor, the
administrative assistants felt that they were required to perform
the novel-related work for him. When the work dominated a
significant amount of their office time, the assistants became
uncomfortable with the situation, but they did not say anything to
Fredrickson about it.
10. According to Fredrickson, the time that he spent working
on his novel at the office was offset by the time that he spent
working on BBO matters at home. During the time relevant, however,
Fredrickson never discussed with his appointing authority, the
twelve-member BBO, his use of his BBO office and computer, his own
BBO time, or his subordinate staff to write and publish his
novel, and the board was completely unaware of the situation.
Moreover, Fredrickson kept no records to document the asserted
Conclusions of Law
11. As the BBO general counsel, Fredrickson is, in the
Commission's view, a state employee within the meaning of G.L. c.
12. Section 23(b)(2) prohibits a state employee from knowingly
or with reason to know using his position to obtain for himself or
others unwarranted privileges of substantial value and not properly
available to similarly situated individuals.
13. By using his BBO office, his BBO equipment and his BBO
time to write and prepare his novels for publication, and by
requesting his BBO subordinates to use their office hours to assist
him with his novel-related tasks, Fredrickson knowingly used his
position as BBO general counsel to secure unwarranted privileges of
14. Fredrickson's use of his BBO office, equipment and time to
work on his novels constituted an unwarranted privilege because a
state employee is paid to perform state business using state
resources during state office hours, and is not entitled to use
those resources and hours for personal business.
15. In addition, Fredrickson's use of his subordinates' time
constituted an unwarranted privilege because Fredrickson's
subordinates' time was supposed to
 Fredrickson appears to have kept records of and reimbursed
the BBO for his use of BBO paper, postage and telephone calls in
connection with his novels.
be spent on BBO business, Fredrickson initiated. the use as noted
above, and his subordinates' decisions to help their supervisor
were not entirely voluntary. In fact, such decisions will rarely be
voluntary because they will be influenced, and were so influenced
in this case, by the inherently exploitable nature of the
relationship between a supervisor and his subordinates.
16. Fredrickson's use of his BBO office, equipment and time,
and his solicitation and use of his subordinates' help to
facilitate his personal activities, was not properly available to
similarly situated individuals because s. 23(b)(2) prohibits state,
county and municipal employees from using their government time and
resources to further their private businesses.
17. Finally, the value of the time, help and state resources
that Fredrickson obtained was worth well over $50 and, therefore,
of substantial value.
18. Thus, Fredrickson knowingly used his official position as
the BBO general counsel to secure for himself unwarranted
privileges of substantial value. By doing so, Fredrickson violated
G.L. c. 268A, s. 23(b)(2).
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by
Fredrickson, the Commission has determined that the public interest
would be served by the
 Section 6 of the conflict-of-interest law prohibits a
state employee from participating as such in a particular matter in
which he has a financial interest. Fredrickson's participation in
determinations regarding how he and his subordinates should use
their BBO time, and regarding his use of BBO resources for his
novel-related purposes, raises s. 6 issues. The Commission,
however, declined to pursue this conduct under s. 6 because of the
specific circumstances involved.
disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings,
on the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by
(1) that Fredrickson pay to the Commission the sum of $5,000
as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s. 23(b)(2);
(2) that Fredrickson pay to the BBO the sum of $5,000 in the
nature of a civil forfeiture reflecting the time that he and
his subordinates spent performing novel-related tasks during
their BBO hours, and the value of the BBO equipment used; and
(3) that Fredrickson waive all rights to contest the findings
of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained
in this Agreement in this or any other related administrative
or judicial proceedings to which the Commission is or may be
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
Peter Sturges Date: 10/9/03
Michael Fredrickson Date: 9/29/03
I, Michael Fredrickson, have personally read the above
Disposition Agreement. I understand that it is a public document
and that by signing it, I will have agreed to all of the terms and
conditions therein including payment of $5,000 to the State Ethics
Commission and $5,000 to the BBO.