Docket No. 459
In the Matter of Paul Gaudette
December 20, 1992
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Paul
Gaudette (Mr. Gaudette) pursuant to s.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, s.4(j).
On September 10, 1992, the Commission initiated, pursuant to
G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible
violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Mr.
Gaudette. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on
November 4, 1992, by a majority vote, found reasonable cause to
believe that Mr. Gaudette violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Mr. Gaudette now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Mr. Gaudette was, during the time here relevant, the
Dracut Building Inspector. As such, Mr. Gaudette was a municipal
employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1.
2. As building inspector, Mr. Gaudette was responsible for
issuing all building permits, conducting construction inspections
and serving as Dracut's zoning enforcement officer.
3. Draco Homes (Draco) is a development company located in
Dracut. It is a major, if not the largest, developer of new
residential homes in Dracut. Douglas Dooley is a co-owner of
4. Mr. Gaudette and Mr. Dooley both frequent Laudi's, a
coffee shop located near the Dracut Building Department and
Draco's office. While at Laudi's, Mr. Dooley and Mr. Gaudette
often shared friendly twenty
minute conversations about their mutual interest in flying.Both
are private pilots. They do not otherwise socialize together.
5. Mr. Dooley owns a vacation home in Edgartown, 1/2 mile
away from the Katama grass airstrip. During a conversation about
the difficulty of landing a plane at Katama, Mr. Dooley noted
that he kept the key to his house under the doormat and offered
the use of the house to Mr. Gaudette if he ever was flying in the
6. Sometime in the spring of 1990, Mr. Gaudette's relatives
expressed an interest in seeing Martha's Vineyard during their
upcoming June visit to attend Gaudette's son's high school
graduation. Mr. Gaudette then approached Mr. Dooley at Laudi's
and asked if he could rent the vacation home for a number of days
in June. Mr. Dooley gave Mr. Gaudette permission to use the
house, but refused to accept any rent as he always allowed
friends to use the house for free.
7. Mr. Gaudette and his family arrived at the house on June
9, 1990, and departed on June 13, 1990. Similar houses in the
neighborhood were being rented for $600 $700 a week at that time.
8. During the twenty-two years it has been in business,
Draco has built approximately 700 homes. The majority of their
work has occurred in Dracut. At the time Mr. Gaudette received
the free use of the Martha's Vineyard vacation home, Draco had
six residential homes under development and within the regulation
of the Dracut Building Department. Mr. Gaudette issued the
building permits to each of the six projects. Additionally, he
conducted all framing and final inspections of the properties.
Lastly, Mr. Gaudette issued occupancy permits to the Draco built
9. General laws, c. 268A, s.23(b)(3) prohibits a municipal
employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, acting in a
manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of
the relevant circumstances, to conclude that any person can
improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance
of his official duties.
10. By accepting the rent-free use of a developer's Martha's
Vineyard vacation home, at a time when that developer's company
had a number of projects subject to the building inspector's
regulation, Mr. Gaudette engaged in conduct whereby reasonable
people could conclude that he can be improperly influenced.
Thus, Mr. Gaudette violated s.23(b)(3).
11. The Commission determined that Mr. Gaudette believed Mr.
Dooley's generosity was motivated out of fellowship. In the
Commission's view, however, friendship and personal ties only
serve to enhance the appearance of favoritism that arises when a
public official accepts an item of substantial value from someone
who is subject to his official regulation.
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Mr.
Gaudette, 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. Gaudette:
1. that Mr. Gaudette forfeit to the Commission the sum of
three hundred dollars ($300.00) as the value of the benefit he
received by violating G.L. c. 268A, s.23(b)(3) and;
2. that Mr. Gaudette 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 proceeding to which the Commission is
or may be a party.
 The Commission found no evidence that Mr. Gaudette was,
in fact, improperly influenced.
 A municipal official can avoid a s.23(b)(3) violation by
disclosing in writing to his appointing authority all of the
facts giving rise to the conclusion of improper influence.
 Had the Commission determined Mr. Gaudette believed Mr.
Dooley's gift was motivated in part for or because of an official
act performed or to be performed, a more serious violation of
G.L. c. 268A, s.3 would have occurred.