MARCH 20, 2012

DISPOSITION AGREEMENT

 

The State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) and Daniel Lahiff (“Lahiff”) 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 June 16, 2011, 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 Lahiff.  The Commission amended the preliminary inquiry on September 16, 2011.  On October 14, 2011, the Commission concluded its inquiry and found reasonable cause to believe that Lahiff violated G.L. c. 268A, § 23.

The Commission and Lahiff now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

 

Unauthorized Use of Utility Generator and Solicitation of a Subordinate to Connect and Disconnect the Generator in December 2008

Findings of Fact 

 

1.  Lahiff has been employed as the Lowell Regional Water Utility (“Utility”) executive director since 2003.

2.  In December 2008, Lahiff had a power outage at his home due to an ice storm.

3.  Lahiff transported the Utility’s 3,500-watt generator from the Utility to his home to power his furnace and sump pump. 

4.  Lahiff did not have authorization to borrow the Utility’s generator.

5.  The cost to rent such a generator was at least $50.

6.  Lahiff kept the Utility’s generator at his home for approximately 24 hours.

7.  Lahiff asked his subordinate Doug Collupy (“Collupy”), who was a Utility maintenance plant electrician, to connect the Utility’s generator to Lahiff’s furnace.

8.  During his private time, Collupy connected the generator and created a bypass in the circuit board to connect the furnace.

9.  The fair market value of the labor associated with the electrical work was at least $400.

10.  Lahiff did not negotiate a price with his subordinate Collupy to perform the electrical work.  Instead, he gave Collupy approximately $100.

11.  Collupy returned that same day or the following day during his private time to disconnect the generator.

12.  Lahiff transported the generator back to the Utility during his private time.

 

Use of Utility Generator in December 2008

Conclusions of Law

 

13.  Section 23(b)(2)[1] of G.L. c. 268A 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 unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated 
        individuals.

14.  The use of the Utility’s generator was a privilege.

15.  The privilege was unwarranted because it was the unauthorized use of a public resource for a private purpose.

16.  This privilege was of substantial value because it cost $50 or more to rent a generator.[2]

17.  This privilege was not properly available to similarly situated individuals who had power outages.

18.  By taking the Utility’s generator home without authorization, Lahiff used his official position as the Utility’s executive director to secure this unwarranted 
        privilege for himself.

19.  Thus, by using his official position as the Utility’s executive director to take the Utility’s generator home to power his furnace and sump pump, Lahiff knowingly 
        used his executive director position to obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other similarly situated individuals in 
        violation of  § 23(b)(2).

 

Solicitation of a Private Commercial Relationship with a Subordinate to Connect a Generator in December 2008

Conclusions of Law

 

20.  By having Collupy connect the Utility’s generator to power Lahiff’s furnace and sump pump, Lahiff secured a privilege.

21.  The privilege was unwarranted because Lahiff secured it by soliciting a subordinate – someone in an inherently exploitable situation[3] – and because Lahiff 
        thereby obtained a discount.   

22.  This privilege was of substantial value, i.e., $50 or more, because Lahiff obtained a discount of at least $300 for Collupy’s labor.

23.  This privilege was not properly available to similarly situated individuals who needed electrical work performed.

24.  By soliciting and securing this service at a discount from his subordinate Collupy, Lahiff used his official position as the Utility’s executive director to secure this 
        unwarranted privilege for himself.

25.  Thus, by using his official position as the Utility’s executive director to have his subordinate Collupy connect the Utility’s generator to power Lahiff’s furnace 
        and sump pump, Lahiff knowingly used his executive director position to obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other 
        similarly situated individuals in violation of § 23(b)(2).

 

Unauthorized Use of Utility Generator and Solicitation of a Subordinate to Transport, Connect and Disconnect the Generator in February 2009

Findings of Fact

 

26.  In February 2009, Lahiff received a call from his mother-in-law, who resided with Lahiff, advising that there was a power outage at Lahiff’s home due to an 
        ice storm.

27.  Lahiff was out of state at the time of the power outage.

28.  Lahiff called Collupy to transport the Utility’s 3,500-watt generator from the Utility to Lahiff’s home and to connect the generator in order to power Lahiff’s 
        home.

29.  Lahiff did not have authorization to borrow the Utility’s generator.

30.  The cost to rent such a generator was at least $50.

31.  During his private time, Collupy transported the Utility’s 3,500-watt generator from the Utility to Lahiff’s home and connected the generator in order to power 
        Lahiff’s home.

32.  According to Lahiff, he paid Collupy $100 for this service.

33.  Collupy did not specifically recall whether he was paid by Lahiff.

34.  The power outage lasted a couple of hours.

35.  During his private time, Collupy returned that same day or the following day and disconnected the generator.

36.  Lahiff transported the generator back to the Utility.

 

Use of Utility Generator in February 2009

Conclusions of Law

 

37.  The use of the Utility’s generator was a privilege.

38.  The privilege was unwarranted because it was the unauthorized use of a public resource for a private purpose.

39.  This privilege was of substantial value because the cost to rent a generator was worth $50 or more.

40.  This privilege was not properly available to similarly situated individuals who had suffered power outages.

41.  By asking his subordinate Collupy to transport and connect the Utility’s generator to Lahiff’s home, Lahiff used his official position as the Utility’s executive 
       director to secure this unwarranted privilege for his family member.

42.  Thus, by using his official position as the Utility’s executive director to cause the Utility’s generator to be transported and connected to his home, Lahiff 
        knowingly used his executive director position to obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other similarly situated 
        individuals in violation of § 23(b)(2).

 

Solicitation of a Private Commercial Relationship with a Subordinate to Transport, Connect and Disconnect a Generator in February 2009

Conclusions of Law

 

43.  Lahiff’s solicitation of a private commercial relationship with his subordinate Collupy to transport the Utility’s generator to his home and to connect the 
        generator was a privilege.

44.  The privilege was unwarranted because Lahiff secured it by soliciting a subordinate – someone in an inherently exploitable situation.

45.  It was worth at least $50 or more to have on-call pick-up and delivery of a generator, and to have such a generator connected at one’s home, all during an ice 
        storm. 

46.  This privilege was not properly available to similarly situated individuals.

47.  By soliciting a commercial relationship with his subordinate Collupy, Lahiff used his official position as the Utility’s executive director to secure this 
        unwarranted privilege for himself and for his family member.

48.  Thus, by using his official position as the Utility’s executive director to have his subordinate Collupy transport and connect the Utility’s generator to his home, 
        Lahiff knowingly used his executive director position to obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other similarly situated 
        individuals in violation of § 23(b)(2).

 

Solicitation of a Private Commercial Relationship with a Subordinate to Install a Wood Floor

Findings of Fact

 

49.  In or about 2009, Lahiff asked his subordinate Roger Hebert (“Hebert”) to install a wood floor in Lahiff’s living room.

50.  Lahiff purchased the materials.

51.  Hebert installed the floor.

52.  The work took approximately four hours to perform.

53.  Hebert charged Lahiff $150 for the labor.

54.  The fair market value for the labor was at least $375.

 

Conclusions of Law

 

55.  By having Hebert install a wood floor in Lahiff’s living room, Lahiff secured a privilege.

56.  The privilege was unwarranted because Lahiff secured it by soliciting a subordinate – someone in an inherently exploitable situation – and because Lahiff 
        thereby obtained a discount.  

57.  This privilege was of substantial value, i.e., $50 or more, because Lahiff obtained a discount of at least $225 for Hebert’s labor.

58.  This privilege was not properly available to similarly situated individuals who needed wood floors installed.

59.  By soliciting and securing this service at a discount from his subordinate Hebert, Lahiff used his official position as the Utility’s executive director to secure this 
        unwarranted privilege for himself.

60.  Thus, by using his official position as the Utility’s executive director to have his subordinate Hebert install a wood floor in Lahiff’s living room, Lahiff knowingly 
        used his executive director position to obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other similarly situated individuals in  
        violation of § 23(b)(2).

 

 

In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Lahiff, 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 Lahiff:

(1)   that Daniel Lahiff pay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the Commission, the sum of $5,000 as a civil penalty for 
        violating G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2); and

(2)  that Daniel Lahiff 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.

 

STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

 

 

__//signed//_________3/9/12              
Daniel Lahiff                 Date

 

__//signed//                        3/20/12
Karen L. Nober                Date
Executive Director

 

 

I, Daniel Lahiff, 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 Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the State Ethics Commission.

 

__//signed//_________3/9/12 
Daniel Lahiff                 Date



[1]G.L. c. 268A was amended by c. 28 of the Acts of 2009.  The language of § 23(b)(2) now appears in § 23(b)(2)(ii) of G.L. c. 268A, as amended.

[2] The Commission has established a $50.00 threshold to determine “substantial value.”  930 CMR 5.05.

[3] In EC-COI-92-7, the Commission determined that a public employee’s private business relationship with a subordinate employee violates § 23, unless (1) the relationship is entirely voluntary; (2) it was initiated by the person under the supervisory employee’s jurisdiction; and (3) the supervisory employee’s public written disclosure under § 23(b)(3) states facts clearly showing elements (1) and (2).  Thus, failure to meet elements (1) or (2) will violate § 23(b)(2); failure to make the disclosure required by (3) will violate § 23(b)(3).