In the matter of Robert M. Galewski
January 24, 1991

This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Robert M. Galewski (Mr. Galewski) pursuant to section 5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to final Commission order enforceable in the Superior Court pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, §4(j).

On September 20, 1989, 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 Mr. Galewski while he was a Braintree assistant building inspector. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on September 12, 1990, by a majority vote, found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Galewski violated G.L. c. 268A.

The Commission and Mr. Galewski now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

     1.  Mr. Galewski has been a Braintree assistant building inspector since 1986. As such, Mr. Galewski is a municipal employee as defined in G.L. c. 268A, §1(g).

     2.  Among his duties as assistant building inspector, Mr. Galewski is responsible for issuing building permits, inspecting construction at various stages to ensure that the construction conforms with local and state building codes, and issuing certificates of occupancy for such construction.

     3.  In or about 1985, Nashua-Boston Development Corporation (NBDC) began to contract and sell homes in a subdivision in Braintree known as Buckingham Place. This subdivision consisted of 52 lots.  The Buckingham Place subdivision was an "upscale" or "high end" development with houses selling at $350,000 and up.

     4.  At all times relevant herein, Donald Greenbaum and Scot Greenbaum were the NBDC president and vice president, respectively.

     5.  On or about October 2, 1987, Mr. Galewski inspected lot #23 in the Buckingham Place subdivision for the purpose of determining whether the house was ready for an occupancy permit. In the course of his inspection, Mr. Galewski had a discussion with Scot Greenbaum.
     Mr. Galewski asked Scot Greenbaum if he would sell him a lot in the Buckingham Place subdivision. Scot Greenbaum explained that he could not, due to a commitment to the home buyers that no lots "as opposed to houses" would be sold.[1] Mr. Galewski then asked if Scot Greenbaum would build him a house. Scot Greenbaum explained that the cost of the houses was in the upper $300,000s.  Mr. Galewski then asked Scot Greenbaum if he would build him a house that he could afford to buy.  Scot Greenbaum told Mr. Galewski that he was concerned about a conflict of interest.

     6.  On or about December 1, 1988, Mr. Galewski inspected lot #63 of Buckingham Place for the purpose of issuing an occupancy permit. Mr. Galewski was aware that the closing date was December 2, 1988, and if the house did not close on that date, the buyer could lose his financing. Donald Greenbaum met with Mr. Galewski at lot #63 on December 1, 1988. Mr. Galewski made his inspection and then had a discussion with Donald Greenbaum.
     Mr. Galewski told Donald Greenbaum that he would only issue a temporary certificate inasmuch as the railing for the rear deck was not in place. Donald Greenbaum asked Mr. Galewski if he could reinspect on December 2nd in the morning so they would be able to close in the afternoon. Mr. Galewski and Donald Greenbaum then went to do a framing inspection at a nearby lot. Mr. Galewski approved the framing inspection. While inspecting, he raised the question with Donald Greenbaum of the Greenbaums selling him a house lot. Donald Greenbaum expressed a concern about possible conflict ramifications.
     Mr. Galewski never appeared on the morning of December 2nd to do the final inspection. However, the Greenbaums were able to close on this property using the temporary certificate.

     7.  On or about January 30, 1989, Mr. Galewski met with Scot Greenbaum and again raised the issue of buying a lot or a house on Buckingham Place.

     8.  Between May 1986 and May 1987, the Braintree Building Department conducted nine final inspections of houses at Buckingham Place. Six of those were conducted by Mr. Galewski, three by the building inspector. Each of those inspections resulted in a determination that the construction was satisfactory and the occupancy certificate issued. Thereafter, in August, 1987 at the next final inspection of a Buckingham Place house, Mr. Galewski declined to issue the certificate of occupancy, rather issuing a temporary certificate until certain asserted deficiencies were corrected. The next four final inspections occurred between October of 1987, and May of 1988, all done by Mr. Galewski and all resulting in certificates of occupancy issuing.  The next four final inspections occurring between July 1988 and February 1989, all conducted by Mr. Galewski, resulted in three temporary certificates because of  asserted deficiencies, and one certificate of occupancy.

     9.  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 an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not otherwise available to similarly situated people.

     10.  By asking the Greenbaums to sell him a lot when he knew the Greenbaums were not selling a lot, and by asking Scot Greenbaum to sell him a house that he could afford, Mr. Galewski sought unwarranted privileges of substantial value. By making these requests during the course of official inspections, Mr. Galewski knew or should have known that in effect he was using his position as an inspector to attempt to secure unwarranted privileges.  This is particularly true for the conversation with Donald Greenbaum which appears to have taken place on or about December 1, 1988, immediately after Mr. Galewski had issued only a temporary certificate of occupancy; and as to the January, 1989, conversation with Scot Greenbaum, which took place not only after Mr. Galewski had issued a series of temporary certificates of occupancy to the Greenbaums, but, after Donald Greenbaum had explicitly raised conflict of interest concerns.  Accordingly, Mr. Galewski knew or should have known that the effect of his conduct was to put pressure as an inspector on the Greenbaums to make some sort of unwarranted private accommodation to him.[2]  Therefore, by acting as just described, Mr. Galewski knew or had reason to know that he was attempting to use his official position to secure an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not otherwise available to similarly situated people, thereby violating §23(b)(2).

     11.  In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A, §23(b)(2), 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 Mr. Galewski:

          1.  that he pay to the Commission the amount of twelve hundred and fifty dollars ($1,250.00) as a civil penalty for his violation of §23(b)(2); and

          2.  that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement in any related administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party. 

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[1] This commitment was intended to maintain the overall "luxury" character of the development.

 

[2] Mr. Galewski maintains that he did not intend for his conduct to be perceived as an attempt to use his official position to secure any such unwarranted accommodation. The Commission previously addressed this point in In the Matter of Richard Singleton, 1990 SEC 476 (fire chief violates §23(b)(2) by telling a company’s representative that certain fire department inspections could take forever while in the same conversation asking the company to maintain its business with his son).  In Singleton, the Commission said, "General Laws c. 268A, §23(b)(2), however, embodies an objective test by which a public employee's conduct is judged by what the employee knew or had reason to know at the time of his conduct." Thus, even if Mr. Galewski did not intend for his conduct to be perceived as an attempt to secure an unwarranted privilege of substantial value, he had reason to know his conduct would be so perceived.