Docket No. 535
In the Matter of Ralph Parisella
October 16, 1995
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Ralph
Parisella ("Parisella") pursuant to s.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 May 25, 1993, 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 Parisella. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on July 11, 1995, found
reasonable cause to believe that Parisella violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Parisella now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. At the times here relevant, Parisella was a member of
the Beverly Licensing Board ("Board"), an appointed position
Parisella has held since 1988. As such, Parisella was, at all
times here relevant, a municipal employee as that term is defined
in G.L. c. 268A, s.1.
2. As a Board member, Parisella's duties included issuing,
overseeing and enforcing alcoholic beverages licenses in
accordance with state and local laws.
3. Parisella owned Ralph's Market in Beverly for 35 years,
until he sold it in 1988. While Parisella owned Ralph's Market,
he developed an ice business, Ralph's Ice. When Parisella sold
Ralph's Market, he retained ownership of Ralph's Ice.
4. In 1992, Parisella was semi-retired and Parisella's
son, Jason Parisella ("Jason"), was running Ralph's Ice, the
ownership of which Parisella and his wife were then in the
process of transferring to Jason. In 1992, Parisella still
continued to help out with Ralph's Ice when the business was
especially busy, was still involved in the management of Ralph's
Ice and continued to receive a salary from Ralph's Ice.
5. In 1992, Ralph's Ice was the only ice company located
in Beverly. There were, however, other ice companies located
outside of Beverly which supplied ice to businesses in Beverly.
Patten Co. Ice ("Patten Ice") of Peabody and Salem Ice of Salem
were Ralph's Ice's two main competitors in 1992.
6. In 1992, Ralph's Ice had approximately 75 customer
accounts, including gas stations, convenience and grocery stores,
package stores, restaurants and other retail outlets. Among
Ralph's Ice's customers were Cornerstone Liquor Store
("Cornerstone") and Cabot Liquor Store ("Cabot"), both owned by
Jerry Dubrow and his son Robert Dubrow (together "the Dubrows");
and Simpson's Package Store ("Simpson's") and Ryalside Liquors
("Ryalside"), both owned by George Finn ("Finn"). Each store did
approximately $200 per year in business with Ralph's Ice.
Cornerstone, Cabot, Simpson's and Ryalside were Beverly package
stores licensed by the Board to sell alcoholic beverages.
7. In early 1992, the new owner of Ralph's Market applied
to the Board for a license to sell beer and wine. Parisella was
not involved in Ralph's Market's license application, either
privately or as a member of the Board. Ralph's Market's license
application was opposed by Finn and the Dubrows. In October
1992, the Board granted a beer and wine license to Ralph's
Market. Parisella did not participate as a Board member in the
granting of the license to Ralph's Market.
8. The Board's granting of the beer and wine license to
Ralph's Market upset Finn and the Dubrows. Finn and the Dubrows
blamed Parisella for the granting of the license to Ralph's
9. On October 26, 1992, Finn told Parisella he was
changing ice suppliers for his two stores because of the Board's
issuance of the license to Ralph's Market. Parisella tried to
convince Finn not to change ice suppliers. During their
conversation, Parisella told Finn that he had nothing to do with
the issuance of the license to Ralph's Market. In an effort to
convince Finn to continue doing business with Ralph's Ice,
Parisella reminded Finn that Parisella was pro-business and
referred to another Board member, Russ Kiernan ("Kiernan"), who
had a history of opposition to outside signs on liquor stores
(which Beverly retailers considered important to their business).
Exactly what Parisella said to Finn is uncertain; however,
Parisella's statements were such as would cause a reasonable
person hearing them and knowing the relevant circumstances to
conclude that Parisella, as a Board member, would intercede with
Kiernan on the sign issue if Finn continued to buy ice from
Ralph's Ice, but would not do so if Finn changed ice suppliers.
As a result of this conversation with Parisella, Finn decided to
remain a customer of Ralph's Ice.
10. On October 29, 1992, Cornerstone was in the process of
changing ice suppliers from Ralph's Ice to Patten Ice. While
Patten Ice employees were in Cornerstone to install their ice
cooler, Parisella saw the company's truck parked in front of the
store, entered the store, observed what was occurring and
confronted Robert Dubrow. In the ensuing conversation with
Robert Dubrow, Parisella referred to Kiernan and Kiernan's
opposition to outdoor signage. Exactly what Parisella said to
Robert Dubrow is uncertain; however, Parisella's statements were
such as would cause a reasonable person hearing them and knowing
the relevant circumstances to conclude that Parisella, as a Board
member, had in the past prevented Kiernan from acting on the
signage issue, and would cease doing so if Robert Dubrow changed
11. After this discussion with Robert Dubrow, Parisella
left Cornerstone, went to Cabot and asked Jerry Dubrow why
Cornerstone was "throwing out [Ralph's Ice] ice." Jerry Dubrow
told Parisella that Cornerstone and Cabot were changing ice
suppliers because Ralph's Market had been given a beer and wine
license. Parisella responded that he did not vote on the license
and did not have anything to do with it. Parisella, in this
conversation with Jerry Dubrow, also referred to Kiernan and
Kiernan's opposition to outdoor signage. Again, exactly what
Parisella said to Jerry Dubrow is uncertain; however, Parisella's
statements were such as would cause a reasonable person hearing
them and knowing the relevant circumstances to conclude that
Parisella, as a Board member, had in the past prevented Kiernan
from acting on the sign issue and would cease doing so if Jerry
Dubrow changed ice suppliers.
12. As a result of their October 29, 1992 conversations
with Parisella, the Dubrows decided to remain customers of
13. Kiernan was a Board member for ten years until he
resigned in late 1992. According to Parisella and Kiernan, the
following statements are true: Other
than their Board service, Kiernan and Parisella had no
relationship. Parisella had no influence over Kiernan while
Kiernan served on the Board. As a Board member, Kiernan opposed
signs for mostly aesthetic reasons. Kiernan was not aware that
Parisella discussed Kiernan's position on signs with liquor store
owners. Kiernan never discussed the sign issue with Parisella
outside of Board meetings. Parisella never attempted to convince
Kiernan to "back off" of the sign issue. (The Commission is
aware of no evidence contradicting these statements.)
14. Section 23(b)(2) 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 obtain for himself or
others unwarranted privileges of substantial value which are not
properly available to similarly situated persons.
15. The Dubrows' and Finn's annual ice purchases from
Ralph's Ice were of substantial value.
16. As set forth above, Parisella used his position as a
Board member to retain the business of Finn and the Dubrows for
himself and his son as owners of Ralph's Ice. Parisella's use of
his official position to retain the business of Finn and the
Dubrows was, thus, the use of Parisella's official position to
obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value. In so
using his official position, Parisella violated s.23(b)(2).
17. Section 23(b)(3) of G.L. c. 268A 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, or that he is likely to act or fail to
act as a result of kinship, rank, position or undue influence of
any party or person.
18. Parisella, by making statements to the Dubrows and Finn
implying that their failure to continue doing business with
Ralph's Ice would affect his actions as a Board member,
knowingly, or with reason to know, acted in a manner which would
cause a reasonable person, with knowledge of the relevant
circumstances, to conclude that Parisella, as a Board member,
would officially favor people doing business with Ralph's Ice
and, thus, that those persons could improperly influence or
unduly enjoy Parisella's favor in the performance of his official
duties as a Board member. Thus, Parisella violated G.L. c.
19. Parisella fully cooperated with the Commission's
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by
Parisella, 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 Parisella:
(1) that Parisella pay to the Commission the sum of
one thousand dollars ($1,000) as a civil penalty for
violating G.L. c. 268A, s.23; and
(2) that Parisella 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.
 Parisella stopped doing business with Finn and the
Dubrows in 1993, after Parisella learned of the Commission's
investigation into this matter.
 Anything worth $50 or more is of substantial value for
G.L. c. 268A purposes. See Commonwealth v. Famigletti, 4 Mass.
App. Ct. 584, 587; EC-COI-93-14.
 Although an appointed official, such as Parisella was as
a Board member, may avoid a violation of s.23(b)(3) by a written
disclosure to his appointing authority, Parisella made no such