IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT N. SCOLA
Date: June 20, 1986
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission (Commission") and Robert N.
Scola (Judge Scola") pursuant to section 11 of the Commission's
Enforcement Procedures. This agreement constitutes a consented to
final order of the Commission enforceable in the Superior Court
pursuant to G. L. c. 268B, s. 4(d).
On March 22, 1983, 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,
involving Judge Scola, presiding justice of the Spencer
District Court. The Commission concluded that preliminary inquiry and on
May 5, 1983, found reasonable cause to believe that Judge Scola
violated G. L. c. 268A, s. 23 (s. 2) (3). The parties now agree
to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Judge Scola is a district court judge and presiding
justice of the Spencer District Court. He is therefore a state
employee" as defined in G. L. c. 268A, s.1(q).
2. In August 1982, a Spencer court probation officer brought
to Judge Scola's attention an educational program for criminal
defendants offered by a recently organized non-profit
corporation, MAP, Inc. This program, know as SAAP (the Social
Attitude and Alcohol Awareness Program), was a single,
hour-and-a-half session aimed at young persons charged with less
serious misdemeanors related to alcohol and controlled substance
abuse, such as possession of alcohol or marijuana, transporting
alcohol, disturbing the peace or trespassing. The charge for SAAP
was $20. Judge Scola had previously expressed his interest to
other alcohol programs, without success, in a relatively short
educational program for such less serious offenses as a
sentencing alternative, and SAAP sounded like something that
might meet his requirements. As a result, he met with the
probation officer and the two principals of MAP, Inc. to discuss
SAAP. Further meetings among Judge Scola and MAP, Inc.
3. Judge Scola approved SAAP in the latter part of August and
began using it as a sentencing alternative after trial and a
finding of sufficient facts: if the offender agreed to complete
the program and proof was submitted that he or she had, the court
would dismiss the charges on a pre-set date at the end of a
three-month period of probation without the defendant having to
appear. Other judges sitting in both Spencer and Dudley district
courts also used SAAP as a sentencing alternative.
4. MAP Inc. also offered an educational program, known as MAP
(Massachusetts Alcohol Program), which was longer and more
expensive than SAAP. MAP was a program designed for repeat
offenders arrested for driving under the influence; it was
offered in either a 14-, 20- or 32 week format and cost from $180
to $300, depending on which format was chosen. The two principals
of MAP, Inc. were marketing MAP at various district courts in the
Worcester area and discussed it with Judge Scola in Spencer.
5. Judge Scola's daughter took a job and started work at MAP,
Inc. on September 14, 1982. Hers was the only paid position, and
her salary was derived from MAP and SAAP referral income. In
January, 1983, MAP, Inc. was forced to let her go because the new
Massachusetts drunk driving laws had severely curtailed MAP,
Inc.'s income from MAP referrals. As a result, MAP, Inc. was
forced to reduce its operating expenses.
6. During the four-month period his daughter worked at MAP,
Inc., Judge Scola continued to refer offenders to SAAP. These
referrals totalled approximately 75 during this period and
represented a significant portion of MAP, Inc.'s SAAP income. In
addition, Judge Scola directed at least two offenders to the
corps ration's MAP program while his daughter was employed there;
these referrals occurred in the second half of September, but
ended in October as a result of the new drunk driving law.
7. Judge Scola had no program similar to SAAP available to
him as a sentencing alternative during this period, although
alternatives to some, but not all, MAP programs were available.
8. Section 23(s. 2) (3) forbids a public official from giving
reasonable basis, by his conduct, for the impression that any
person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the
performance of his official duties or that he is unduly affected
by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or
9. By continuing to assign offenders to attend programs given
by the corporation employing his daughter,Judge Scola gave
reasonable basis for the impression that MAP, Inc. and his
daughter could improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in
the performance of his official duties or that he was unduly
affected by the fact that MAP, Inc. employed his daughter;Judge
Scola thereby violated s. 23 (s.20) (3).
10. In assessing the penalty here, the Commission
has taken into consideration that Judge Scola's MAP and SAAP
referrals do not appear to have been motivated by his daughter's
interest in them or by a desire to benefit his daughter.
WHEREFORE, 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 representations agreed to by Judge Scola:
1. that he pay the Commission the sum of $250 forthwith as a
civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s. 23 (s. 2) (3),
because he assigned offenders to programs offered by an
organization employing his daughter; and
2. that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact,
conclusions of law and conditions contained in this Agreement in
this or any related administrative and/or judicial proceedings.
End Of Decision