Date:  March 13, 2014

Disposition Agreement

The State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) and Robert Wilson (“Wilson”) 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, § 4(j). 

On March 15, 2013, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Wilson.  On November 21, 2013, the Commission concluded its inquiry and found reasonable cause to believe that Wilson violated G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2).

The Commission and Wilson now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

Findings of Fact

  1. In the Town of Leicester (the “Town”), ambulance and emergency medical services are provided by the Town’s Emergency Medical Services Department (“the EMS Department”).  Wilson, a Leicester resident, has been the EMS Department executive director since 2000.  As the EMS Department executive director, Wilson is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all the EMS Department emergency medical technician (“EMT”) employees are certified as a condition for employment.  Wilson also serves as an EMS Department EMT when necessary.  Wilson is paid approximately $15.00 per hour when he is called on to act as an EMT.  Wilson has held his EMT-Basic certification since 1978 and understands the recertification requirements.
  2.  Under state law, EMTs must renew their certification every two years.  To obtain recertification, EMTs holding the “Basic” certification must attend an approved refresher training course that includes a minimum of 24 hours of classroom instruction.  EMT refresher courses can be held by accredited training institutions or through an individual program approved by the State Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Emergency Medical Services (“OEMS”).  If an EMT is not timely recertified, the EMT is prohibited from working as an EMT.
  3. On August 6, 2008, the OEMS received an application from the EMS Department for approval to provide an individual refresher training program for its EMTs.  The proposed training was to be held from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. over three days:  September 13, 2008, September 14, 2008, and September 28, 2008.  Upon review of the application, the OEMS approved the training course sponsored by the EMS Department.
  4. On October 9, 2008, the OEMS received a report that the EMT refresher course had not included the minimum 24 hours of required instruction, and that the 12 EMTs who took the course, including Wilson, had falsely signed the attendance rosters documenting completion of the full 24 hours of instruction.
  5. The OEMS commenced an investigation that included interviews with Wilson as well as with 10 of the 12 EMTs who signed the attendance rosters.  The OEMS determined that the September 13, 2008 class only lasted from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., and the September 14, 2008 class only went from 8:00 a.m. until sometime between 10:00 a.m. and noon.  The third day of classes, September 28, 2008, did not take place at all.
  6. Copies of the attendance rosters for the EMT refresher course for each of the three days show that attendees (including Wilson) signed each attendance roster as having attended the training for eight hours on each of the three days.  Each attendance roster has an instruction to the EMTs that states:  “If the number of hours the program was actually held is less than the number of hours the program was approved for the number of hours for the program will be reduced.”  
  7. The OEMS found that the 12 EMTs had knowingly signed attendance rosters falsely representing that they had completed the required hours of instruction.  On February 26, 2009, the OEMS issued letters of reprimand to all 12 EMTs and required them to re-take refresher training.  Also on February 26, 2009, the OEMS issued a “Notice of Serious Deficiency” to the EMS Department for its failure “to ensure that all EMT-Basic refresher programs have been conducted in accordance with Department [OEMS] approved standards.”[1]   The OEMS notified the EMS Department that it had to submit to the OEMS a plan for addressing the deficiencies.  On March 30, 2009, the Town submitted such a plan, which the OEMS approved on April 13, 2009. 

Conclusions of Law

  1.  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 which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.[2]
  2. Wilson used his EMS Department executive director position to falsely attest that he attended the EMT refresher course and had met the state’s mandatory EMT recertification training requirements.
  3. EMT recertification is a privilege.
  4. Where Wilson attempted to secure his recertification by misrepresenting that he had completed the required hours of instruction, the privilege was unwarranted. 
  5. The recertification was of substantial value because it was a prerequisite to his continuing to receive compensation of $50 or more as an EMS Department EMT. 
  6. The privilege of recertification without having completed the required hours of instruction was not properly available to similarly situated individuals.
  7. Therefore, by, in the manner described above, using his official position as EMS Department executive director to falsely attest that he had completed the required hours of instruction, Wilson attempted to use his official position to obtain for himself an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to other similarly situated individuals, thereby violating § 23(b)(2).
  8. Wilson is the EMS executive director and, as such, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all EMS Department EMTs are certified, as that is a condition of their employment.  Wilson’s presence and participation at the EMT refresher course, which included his dishonest signing of the attendance rosters, is an exacerbating factor, as his conduct tacitly gave his subordinate EMT employees authorization to do the same. 

Resolution

In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Wilson, 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 Wilson:

  1. that Wilson pay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the Commission, the sum of $2,000[3] as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2);
  2. that Wilson waive all rights to contest, in this or any other administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement.

By signing below, Robert Wilson acknowledges that he has personally read this Disposition Agreement, that it is a public document, and that he agrees to all of the terms and conditions therein.

STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

//signed//                      3/13/14
Karen L. Nober           Date
Executive Director

//signed//                      2/14/14
Robert Wilson



[1] Failure to submit an acceptable and timely plan of correction or failure to correct in accordance with the plan are grounds for enforcement action including suspension or revocation of a license, certification, certificate of inspection, designation or other form of approval.  105 CMR 170.710

[2] G.L. c. 268A was amended by c. 28 of the Acts of 2009.  The language of § 23(b)(2) now appears in § 23(b)(2)(ii) of G.L. c. 268A, as amended.

[3] In imposing a civil penalty, however, the Commission notes that the conduct took place before September 29, 2009, the effective date of the increase in the civil penalties for violations of G.L. 268A.  At the time of Wilson’s violation of § 23(b)(2), the maximum civil penalty was $2,000 per violation.