In the Matter of Mark Vincent
October 24, 2007
The State Ethics Commission and Mark Vincent 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. 268B, s. 4(j).
On July 25, 2007, the Commission initiated a preliminary inquiry, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(a), into possible violations of the conflict-of-interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Vincent. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on September 21, 2007, found reasonable cause to believe that Vincent violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Vincent now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Findings of Fact
1. Vincent is the Wellfleet Department of Public Works (DPW) director.
2. During the relevant period, Kevin Cahoon was the Wellfleet DPW assistant director.
3. In 2005, a used chipper was donated to the town. If new, the chipper would have had a value of approximately $1,000. The chipper, however, was in need of repair. The DPW performed minor maintenance in the form of painting, sharpening the blades, and purchasing a new gas tank for the chipper. The total cost for these services and parts was approximately $200. Once repaired, the chipper was operable.
4. In 2006, the DPW purchased a new, larger chipper. The used chipper remained idle in the DPW yard.
5. Wellfleet By-Laws, Article III, Town Affairs, s. 7 requires that town personal property valued by the town administrator at less than five hundred dollars ($500) be disposed of by the town administrator only by sale or exchange. All town personal property valued at $500 or more is disposed of only by sale or exchange as authorized by town meeting.
6. In October 2006, Vincent as DPW director, without following the required disposal procedures, allowed Cahoon to take the used chipper home.
7. Cahoon used the chipper at his home for tree-clearing work.
8. In April 2007, the Wellfleet police asked Cahoon about the chipper. Cahoon acknowledged that he had the chipper at home and had only intended to borrow it.
9. Cahoon returned the chipper to the town in late April 2007, and the machine is now stored in a town shed.
10. Cahoon has since resigned from his DPW position.
Conclusions of Law
11. As the Wellfleet DPW director, Vincent was a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(g).
12. 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 secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
13. Cahoon's private possession and use of the town's chipper was an unwarranted privilege.
14. This unwarranted privilege was of substantial value because it provided Cahoon with the free use for six months of town equipment which was a benefit worth more than $50.
15. This unwarranted privilege was not available to similarly situated individuals.
16. Vincent used his position as DPW Director to allow Cahoon to take possession and free personal use of the chipper without following the required disposal procedures.
17. Accordingly, Vincent violated s. 23(b)(2) by knowingly or with reason to know using his official position to allow Cahoon to take private possession of and have free personal use of a town chipper without following the required disposal procedures, thereby securing for Cahoon an unwarranted privilege of substantial value that was not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Vincent, 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 Vincent:
(1) that Vincent pay to the Commission the sum of $500 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A; and
(2) that Vincent 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.
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
/s/David A. Wilson
Acting Executive Director
October 24, 2007
September 29, 2007
I, Mark Vincent, have personally read the above Disposition Agreement. I understand that it is a public document and that by signing it, I will have agreed to all of the terms and conditions therein including payment of $500 to the State Ethics Commission.
September 29, 2007
End Of Decision