IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL FREDRICKSON


Date: October 9, 2003

DISPOSITION AGREEMENT

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.

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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.[1]

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.

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[1] 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.

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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

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novel, and the board was completely unaware of the situation.

Moreover, Fredrickson kept no records to document the asserted

offset.[2]

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.

268A.

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

substantial value.

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

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[2] 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.

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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).[3]

Resolution

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

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[3] 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.

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disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings,

on the basis of the following terms and conditions agreed to by

Fredrickson:

(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

a party.

STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

By:

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.

Michael Fredrickson Date: 9/29/03


End Of Decision