Docket No. 617
In the Matter of Patrick Murphy
March 29, 2001
The State Ethics Commission and Patrick Murphy 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.
On January 19, 2000, 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
Murphy. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on November
21, 2000, found reasonable cause to believe that Murphy violated
G.L. c. 268A, s.23.
The Commission and Murphy now agree to the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Murphy was, during the time relevant, the Cambridge deputy
school superintendent. As such, Murphy was a municipal employee as
that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. I (g).
2. Murphy has a daughter who at the relevant time was a
freshman in college.
3. In November 1999, Murphy asked a Cambridge School
Department employee to assist his daughter on a paper his daughter
needed to write for her college freshman English class. The
employee took the assignment sheet from Murphy and approximately a
week later gave Murphy a draft paper on Othello intended as a
"template" for a final paper. Murphy gave the paper to his
daughter. The paper was used substantially unchanged for her
college course. Subsequently, Murphy returned to the employee with
the Othello paper, which had received a D+ grade. and asked the
employee to redo the paper. Murphy also went to a second school
department employee and asked her to assist the first employee with
redoing the Othello paper. Murphy then gave the two school
department employees an assignment sheet on Hamlet for his
daughter's same college course. They prepared a paper on Hamlet and
gave the paper to Murphy, and he gave the paper to his daughter.
Murphy made the above requests in face-to-face meetings with the
employees at the school department during regular hours. The
employees expended several hours of time in responding to Murphy's
4. Until his resignation in December 1999, Murphy as deputy
superintendent, occupied the "number two" position in the
department. He was responsible for managing and improving program
operations at both the elementary and secondary levels. While he
was not either of these employees' direct supervisor, as deputy
superintendent he did have the authority to direct their actions
and participate in personnel actions that could affect them. At the
same time, Murphy had a private relationship with the employees.
While they did not have a close friendship or business relationship
or history of exchanging private favors, the parties have known
each other for numerous years and have attended several
social/professional gatherings together. In any event, according to
each of the above school department employees, she provided the
above-described assistance in part because of friendship, but also
in significant part because Murphy was deputy superintendent. Both
employees have indicated that they felt pressured by the requests.
5. Section 23(b)(2) G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal
employee from knowingly or with reason to know using or attempting
to use his position to obtain for himself or others an unwarranted
privilege of substantial value which is not properly available to
similarly situated individuals.
6. Given Murphy's official relationship with the two
employees, his making the requests (as opposed to their offering),
his making these requests at the School Department during regular
work hours, and the fact that each employee states Murphy's
official position played a significant role, it is clear that when
Murphy made the above requests he was, in effect, using his
position as deputy superintendent to do so. (This conclusion
applies even if Murphy to some extent was also relying on his
private relationship with these employees in making these
7. A college student's receiving substantial assistance in the
writing of her college papers from City of Cambridge School
Department employees is a special advantage or benefit. As such it
is a privilege.
8. There is no justification for Murphy's daughter receiving
such a privilege under these circumstances. School department
employees are not supposed to be assisting a senior school
department administrator's daughter with her college course work.
Therefore, the privilege was unwarranted. The assistance was
particularly unwarranted when it moved from drafting a "template"
for the first paper to redoing the first paper and preparing the
9. Having Cambridge School Department employees do such work
was a privilege of substantial value in two respects: first, it
involved in the aggregate a significant amount of those employees'
time; second, it provided Murphy's daughter with course work
assistance of substantial intangible value by which she could
potentially earn college credit.
10. The privilege which Murphy obtained for his daughter was
not properly available to "similarly situated individuals."
11. Therefore, by having school department employees assist
his daughter with her college work as discussed above, Murphy
knowingly used his deputy superintendent position to obtain an
unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available
to other similarly situated individuals in violation of s.23(b)(2).
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Murphy,
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 Murphy:
(1) that Murphy pay to the Commission the sum of $2,000 as a
civil penalty for the violations of G.L. c. 268A, s.23(b)(2);
(2) that Murphy 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