In the Matter of Julie C. Molloy
May 20, 2008
DISPOSITION AGREEMENT


The State Ethics Commission and Julie C. Molloy 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 May 9, 2007, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict-of-interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Molloy. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on July 25, 2007, found reasonable cause to believe that Molloy violated G.L. c. 268A.


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

Findings of Fact

  1. At all times relevant, Molloy was an elected member of the Town of Sandwich Planning Board. Planning Board positions had been designated special municipal employee positions for conflict of interest law purposes. At all times relevant, Molloy was an attorney with a private law practice.

  2. The Sandwich Zoning Board of Appeals ("ZBA") is the approval authority for special permit applications involving the installation of wind turbines in the Town of Sandwich. Prior to the ZBA's vote on such permits, the Planning Board and other agencies review the applications and provide non-binding comments to the ZBA.

  3. In early 2006, the ZBA received a special permit application for the installation of two wind turbines in a densely-settled residential area. At the time, William and Angela LeBeau owned property abutting the site of the proposed wind turbine project.

  4. Before June 6, 2006, the LeBeaus met with Molloy and asked her if she could represent them in their efforts to oppose the wind turbine special permit application. After reviewing G.L. c. 268A, Molloy believed that her status as a special municipal employee would allow her to represent the LeBeaus in connection with the application without violating G.L. c. 268A.

  5. On June 6, 2006, the Planning Board discussed the special permit application for the wind turbine project. The LeBeaus attended the meeting. Molloy spoke in opposition to the project by raising concerns regarding the turbines' location and compliance with applicable setback requirements.

  6. Molloy did not represent the LeBeaus at the time of the June 6, 2006 Planning Board meeting. Rather, her comments in opposition to the special permit application were made in her capacity as a Planning Board member. On June 7, 2006, the Planning Board chair forwarded the Planning Board members' comments, including Molloy's, to the ZBA.

  7. On June 13, 2006, the LeBeaus retained Molloy to act as their attorney in opposing the turbine project. On this date, Molloy received a $2500 retainer check from the LeBeaus.

  8. Also on June 13, 2006, the ZBA held a public hearing regarding the wind turbine special permit application. Minutes of the ZBA indicate that Molloy represented the LeBeaus at the hearing and spoke against the proposal.

  9. The ZBA approved the special permit application. On June 27, 2006, Molloy filed an appeal of the decision with the Barnstable Superior Court on behalf of the LeBeaus.

  10. Following Molloy's filing of the appeal, the LeBeaus requested a refund of the balance of their retainer. Molloy refunded $800 to the LeBeaus and, thereafter, took steps to conclude her representation.

  11. As a member of the Sandwich Planning Board, Molloy was at all times relevant a special municipal employee as defined by G.L. c. 268A s. 1.

  12. Section 17(a) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties, from receiving or requesting compensation from anyone other than the town or municipal agency in relation to any particular matter in which the same town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Section 17 applies less restrictively to special municipal employees. A special municipal employee is subject to s. 17(a) only relative to a particular matter, (a) in which she has participated, (b) which is or within one year has been a subject of her official responsibility, or (c) which is pending before her own agency.

  13. The wind turbine special permit application was a particular matter. The town had a direct and substantial interest in this particular matter.

  14. Molloy participated as a Planning Board member in the particular matter by contributing comments for the ZBA's consideration of the special permit application. The particular matter was also subject to her official responsibility as a Planning Board member.

  15. Molloy received $1700 as compensation from the LeBeaus for the above-described legal services performed in relation to the particular matter.

  16. Molloy's receipt of compensation from the LeBeaus was not provided by law for the proper discharge of her official duties as a Planning Board member.

  17. Therefore, Molloy violated s. 17(a).

  18. Section 17(c) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee, otherwise than in the proper discharge of official duties, from acting as attorney for anyone in connection with any particular matter in which the same city or town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. As stated above, s. 17 applies less restrictively to special municipal employees. A special municipal employee is subject to s. 17(c) only relative to a particular matter, (a) in which she has participated, (b) which is or within one year has been a subject of her official responsibility, or (c) which is pending before her own agency.

  19. As stated above, the wind turbine special permit application was a particular matter in which the town had a direct and substantial interest.

  20. Also as stated above, Molloy participated as a Planning Board member in the particular matter by contributing comments for the ZBA's consideration of the special permit application. The particular matter was also subject to her official responsibility as a Planning Board member.

  21. Molloy acted as the LeBeau's attorney in connection with this particular matter by appearing before the ZBA during its consideration of the special permit application and filing an appeal of the ZBA's decision in Barnstable Superior Court.

  22. Molloy's actions as attorney for the LeBeaus were not taken in the proper discharge of her official duties as a Planning Board member.

  23. Therefore, Molloy violated s.17(c).


Conclusions of Law

Section 17(a)

Section 17(c)

Resolution

In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Molloy, 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 Molloy:


(1) that Molloy pay to the Commission $1,700.00 as a civil forfeiture of the money she received for legal services in violation of G.L. c. 268A, s. 17;


(2) that Molloy pay to the Commission $1,300.00 as a civil penalty for violating G. L. c. 268A s. 17; and


(3) that Molloy 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