Docket No. 594
In the Matter of Cathie Thomas
Date: September 23, 1999
The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Cathie
Thomas ("Thomas") enter into this Disposition
Agreement 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.40).
On April 22,1999, the Commission initiated, pursuant to
G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible
violations of the conflict of interest law by Thomas. The
Commission concluded that inquiry and on June 23, 1999, found
reasonable cause to believe that Thomas violated G.L. c. 268A,
The Commission and Thomas now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. From December 1985 to until the present, Thomas has
been a Hampden Probate Court Clerk. As such, she is a state
employee within the meaning of G.L. c. 268A, s. 1 of the conflict
of interest law.
2. Criminal offender record information ("CORI") is
restricted by law; only certain individuals have lawful access to
such information. Unlawful solicitation and/or possession of CORI
records have potential civil and criminal penalties.[1/]
3. CORI is accessed by a computer terminal in each
courthouse. Court employees who have CORI access log on to the
computer by entering a unique and confidential password.[2/] Thomas
was not CORI cleared and did not have CORI access.
4. Alberto Perez ("Perez") is a Hampden Superior Court
probation officer. By virtue of his official position, Perez had
access to CORI information.
5. Perez and Thomas knew each other only through their
official positions as court employees; they are not friends.
6. In 1996, Thomas' uncle, Richard Thomas ("Richard"),
was running for a compensated seat on the Hampden County
Commission. One of his opponents was Abraham Kasparian, Jr.
7. On or about September 6, 1996, at the Hampden Court
House where they both worked, Thomas asked Perez for Kasparian's
CORI record. Thomas gave Perez Kasparian's name and date of birth.
8. Perez agreed to obtain Kasparian's CORI record for
9. On September 6, 1996, Perez accessed and printed out
a copy of Kasparian's CORI record.
10. After Perez printed a copy of Kasparian's CORI
record, he gave it to Thomas at the Hampden Court House. Perez told
Thomas that she could look at it but that she should throw it away
after she was done. Perez stated that he gave Thomas the report
only because she was a fellow court employee and he thought she was
CORI-cleared. Perez stated that he would never have given the CORI
report to a non-court employee.[3/]
11. Thomas kept Kasparian's CORI record printout and
thereafter gave it to her uncle on September 6, 1996. Richard gave
Kasparian's CORI record to a newspaper reporter on September 9,
1996. It was then published [4/] [5/]
12. Section 23(b)(2) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a public
employee from knowingly or with reason to know using or attempting
to use her official position to obtain for herself or others an
unwarranted privilege or exemption of substantial value which is
not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
13. Thomas requested and received from fellow court
employee Perez confidential CORI information concerning her uncle's
political opponent. Thomas knew or had reason to know that but for
her position as a court employee, Perez would not have accessed the
information for her. Therefore, Thomas knew or had reason to know
that she was using her official position to obtain this
14. Neither Thomas nor her uncle was authorized to have
access to CORI records. Therefore, Thomas' use of her official
position to obtain such information for herself and/or her uncle
was an unwarranted privilege or exemption.
15. Thomas' obtaining access to Kasparian's CORI records
was of substantial value because she gave it to her uncle knowing
or with reason to know that he would use it to gain advantage in
his political campaign for a county commissioner position.
16. The privilege of obtaining another's CORI record is
not properly available to similarly situated individuals (all
non-CORI-cleared individuals, which includes the general public).
17. Thus, by using her official position as a Hampden
Probate Clerk to secure for herself and/or her uncle the
unwarranted privilege of access to and use of her uncle's political
opponent's CORI record, Thomas violated G.L. c. 268A, s.23(b)(2).
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A, 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 Thomas:
(1) that Thomas pay to the Commission the sum of two
thousand ($2,000.00) as a civil penalty for the
violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.23(b)(2); and
(2) that Thomas 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.
[1/] See G.L. c. 6 s.177 (imposes potential civil damages of not
less than one hundred and not more that one thousand dollars for
each violation plus costs) and c.6, s.178 (imposes potential
criminal fines of not more than five thousand dollars or
imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than one
year or both)
[2/] Many employees are cleared to see CORI information, but
do not have a password and cannot access CORI records themselves.
[3/] Perez assumed Thomas was CORI-cleared because she worked
in the court.
[4/] Richard plead guilty to unlawful possession of CORI
information and paid a $5,000 fine.
[5/] The Commissioner of Probation suspended Perez without pay
for 20 work days.
End of Decision