IN THE MATTER OF MICHAEL MARTIN
Date: September 7, 1982
This disposition agreement (agreement) is entered into between
the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Michael Martin (Mr.
Martin) pursuant to Section 11 of the Commission's Procedures
Covering the Initiation and Conduct of Preliminary Inquiries and
Investigations. The parties agree that this agreement constitutes
a consented to final Commission order enforceable in the Superior
Court pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(d).
On February 2, 1982, 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 Mr.
Martin, formerly a selectman of the Town of Swampscott (town). The
Commission has concluded that preliminary inquiry and, on September
7, 1982, found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Martin has
violated G.L. c. 268A, s.17(c). The parties now agree to the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Mr. Martin served as a selectman in the town from April of
1975 to April 26,1981. He therefore was a "municipal employee" as
defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(g).
2. At all times material hereto, Mr. Martin was also an
3. On July 25, 1980 the town obtained a final decree in a tax
lien case regarding property owned by Anthony V. Grieco at 17 King
Street, Swampscott (property).
4. On April 1, 1981, Mr. Grieco submitted a letter to the town
Board of Selectmen (board) requesting that he be allowed to redeem
his property by settling his tax debt with the town. That request
was taken up by the board at its meeting on April 16,1981.
5. In the weeks before the April 16th meeting of the board,
Mr. Martin took the following actions in relation to the property:
(a) Mr. Martin met with Mr. Grieco and Deems Hatch at
Grieco's house on two or three separate occasions to discuss
Mr. Grieco's tax troubles and the possible purchase of the
property by Mr. Hatch;
(b) in late February or early March, Mr. Martin
telephoned the town tax title attorney, James Coppola, to
ascertain the status of the property and to inquire about the
laws relating to town tax takings and foreclosures, and during
this conversation Coppola informed Martin that the town could
rescind the foreclosure;
(c) on March 12, 1981, Mr. Martin, stating that he was
calling on behalf of Mr. Hatch, contacted a real estate
appraiser and asked him to contact Mr. Hatch to arrange for
an appraisal of the property; and
(d) on or about April 16, 1981, Mr. Martin called another
attorney and asked him to prepare a purchase and sale
6. At the April 16th meeting of the board, Mr. Martin, in his
capacity as a member of the board, noted that Mr. Grieco had had
financial difficulties not of his own making and stated that he
felt it was in the town's best interest to assist the man. Mr.
Martin then moved that the board allow Mr. Grieco three weeks to
pay his back taxes. That motion carried. There was no evidence of
any misrepresentation made by any party before this vote.
7. Subsequent to the April 16 meeting of the board:
(a) Mr. Martin instructed the attorney as to the terms
of the agreement; and
(b) Mr. Martin suggested to Mr. Grieco and to Mr. Hatch
the use of a mortgage instrument to protect Mr. Hatch's
interest in the over $9,000 which he would have to advance to
Mr. Grieco in order for Mr. Grieco to clear the tax debt.
8. Mr. Martin was present when Mr. Hatch and Mr. Grieco signed
a purchase and sale agreement at Mr. Grieco's house on April
9. On April 21, 1981, Mr. Grieco delivered a check to the town
in the amount of $9,379.31 to clear the tax debt on the property.
10. Sometime in June or July of 1981, Mr. Martin telephoned
a title examiner and asked him to do a title examination for the
11. Mr. Grieco and Mr. Hatch passed papers with respect to the
property on August 14,1981. Mr. Martin was present at that closing.
He inspected the cheeks Mr. Hatch gave to Mr. Grieco and notarized
Mr. Grieco's signature on the deed.
12. On August 17, 1981, Mr. Martin recorded the deed to the
13. General Laws Chapter 268A, s.17(e) prohibits a municipal
employee, otherwise than in the proper discharge of his official
duties, from acting as agent for a private party in connection with
any particular matter in which his town has a direct and
substantial interest. By his actions set out in paragraphs above,
Mr. Martin violated s.17(c) because:
a. the sale of the property was a "particular matter"
(as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(k)) in which the
town had a direct and substantial interest by virtue of the
tax debt owed;
b. he was acting on behalf of at least Mr. Hatch, if not
on behalf of both Mr. Hatch and Mr. Grieco; and
c. because of this degree of participation in advising
both Mr. Hatch and Mr. Grieco in this matter, Mr. Martin's
conduct cannot be characterized as in the proper discharge of
his official duties.
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 Mr. Martin:
1. that he pay the Commission the sum of $1,000 forthwith as
a civil penalty for his violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.17; and
2. that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact,
conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this
agreement or in this or any related administrative or judicial
proceedings to which the Commission is a party.
End Of Decision