IN THE MATTER OF PAUL A. BERNARD
Date: April 3, 1985
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between
the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Paul A. Bernard (Mr.
Bernard) pursuant to s. 11 of the Commission's Enforcement
Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to final order
of the Commission enforceable in Superior Court under G.L. c. 268B,
On August 14, 1984 the Commission initiated a preliminary
inquiry, pursuant to s. 4(a) of the conflict of interest law, G.L.
c. 268A, involving Mr. Bernard, a member of the Freetown Planning Board. The Commission concluded its inquiry on March 12, 198
finding reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Bernard (violated G.L.
c. 268A, ss. 17 and 19. The parties now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Mr. Bernard has been an elected member of the Freetown
Planning Board since 1982, serving as chairman of that Board from
February, 1984 until March, 1985. As a member of the Planning
Board, Mr. Bernard is a special municipal employee within the
meaning of G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(n).
2. Mr. Bernard is also a real estate broker who owns and
operates a real estate firm in Freetown.
3. In January 1984, the Planning Board was considering a plan
which sought to make property located at Howland Estates, known as
the "green area," into a buildable lot.
4. At all times relevant to this Agreement, Mr. Bernard was
acting privately as the real estate broker for the sale of the
green area. By January 1984, Mr. Bernard had a buyer ready to
purchase the green area if the property was approved as a buildable
5. During January and February, 1984, Mr. Bernard participated
as a Planning Board member in discussions during Planning Board
meetings relating to the plan to make the green area a buildable
lot and advocated that the Planning Board approve the plan.
6. General Laws c. 268A, s. 19 prohibits a special municipal
employee from participating as such in a particular matter in which
to his knowledge he has a financial interest. By participating in
Planning Board discussions of the green area while he was privately
acting as the real estate broker for that property, Mr. Bernard
violated s. 19.
7. Mr. Bernard was on notice from an oral discussion with town
counsel in mid-January 1984 and from a January 23, 1984 letter from
town counsel to the Planning Board that he could not be involved
in any way with the green area matter since he was privately
involved with the property as a real estate broker.
8. On February 6, 1984, Mr. Bernard, in his private capacity,
presented a plan relating to property on West Howland Road to the
Planning Board on behalf of the property owners. The property
owners were seeking the Board's approval to make a certain parcel
of land into three buildable lots.
9. Mr. Bernard indicated that he was presenting the plan to
the Planning Board and he responded to the questions of other Board
members concerning the plan. The plan was approved and signed by
the Planning Board, including Mr. Bernard.
10. At the time Mr. Bernard presented the plan to the Planning
Board, he was privately acting as the real estate broker for the
sale of the property involved.
11. General Laws c. 268A, s. 17(c) provides in pertinent part
that a special municipal employee may not act as agent for someone
other than the town in relation to a particular matter in which the
town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest and which
is pending in the municipal agency in which that special municipal
employee serves. By presenting the plan to the Planning Board where
he served as a member and chairman, Mr. Bernard violated s. 17(c).
12 By approving and signing the plan when he was also
privately acting as a real estate broker for the sale of the
property involved, Mr. Bernard violated s. 19.
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:
1. Mr. Bernard will cease and desist from acting as agent for
anyone other than the town in relation to particular matters m
which he has at any time participated as a municipal employee
and/or which are or within one year have been the subject of his
2. Mr. Bernard will cease and desist from participating in any
particular matter before the Planning Board in which he, his
immediate family, a business organization in which he serves as
officer, director, trustee, partner or employee or any person or
organization with whom he is negotiating or has any arrangement
concerning prospective employment has a financial interest; and
3. Mr. Bernard will pay to the State Ethics Commission the
amount of $1,000 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A,
ss. 17 and 19.
End Of Decision