In the Matter of James Murray
October 26, 2007
This Disposition Agreement is entered into between the State Ethics Commission and James Murray, pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented-to final order enforceable in Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(j).
On September 13, 2006, 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 Murray. The Commission concluded its inquiry and, on September 21, 2007, found reasonable cause to believe that Murray violated G.L. c. 268A, s.17(a).
The Commission and Murray now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. At all relevant times, Murray was a North Reading Highway Department ("Highway Department") employee. As such, Murray was a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(g).
2. Sometime in 2004, Murray and North Reading Water Department employee Diego Nicolo started an unincorporated Wilmington-based business called "D. Nicolo J. Murray Water Pipe Testing."
3. Between 2004 and 2005, Murray and/or Nicolo, in their private capacity, performed pressure tests on water lines on properties located at Holt Road, Mary Road, and for a business known as the Hornet's Nest, all properties located in North Reading.
4. More specifically, in or about October 2005, Nicolo and Murray, in their private capacity, performed a pressure test for property located on Mary Road. Nicolo's supervisor at the Water Department inspected their work.
5. Nicolo and Murray were paid and split a total of $300 for the pressure test at Mary Road.
6. In or about October 2005, Nicolo and Murray were also hired privately to install approximately 60 feet of water line and a hydrant on the Mary Road property. They were each paid approximately $150 for the work. Nicolo's Water Department supervisor inspected their installation work.
7. In or about November 2005, Nicolo, in his private capacity, performed a water pressure test for property located on Holt Road. Nicolo's Water Department supervisor performed the required inspection.
8. Nicolo was paid approximately $400 privately for doing the test.
9. Murray was not present at the test. Nicolo, however, gave some amount of the approximately $400 to Murray. Murray knew or had reason to know that Nicolo gave him this money because Nicolo had performed the private water test, and that the town would have inspected that test.
10. In or about December 2004, Nicolo performed a private water pressure test for a business known as the Hornet's Nest. Nicolo's Water Department supervisor inspected the test.
11. Nicolo was paid privately approximately $500 to perform the water pressure test.
12. It is unclear whether Murray was present at the test. Nicolo, however, gave some amount of the approximately $500 to Murray. Murray knew or had reason to know that Nicolo gave him this money because Nicolo had performed the private water test, and that the town would have inspected that test.
13. Nicolo had asked and received permission to perform private water tests in North Reading from his Water Department superintendent and the Director of Public Works. Neither Nicolo nor Murray sought advice about how performing and being paid to perform this work might violate the conflict of interest statute.
14. After another town employee raised conflict of interests concerns to Nicolo's supervisor about Nicolo and Murray performing private water pressure tests, Nicolo and Murray stopped doing private water pressure tests and related work in North Reading.
Conclusions of Law
15. Section 17(a) prohibits a municipal employee from, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties, receiving compensation from anyone other than the town in relation to a particular matter in which the town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.
16. The Town's inspections of the above-described water pressure tests and the water line installation were particular matters.
17. The Town was a party to the water pressure tests and water line installation that Nicolo and Murray performed privately because the Water Department Superintendent inspected the tests and water line installation. The Town also had a direct and substantial interest in the water pressure tests and water line installation.
18. As to Holt Road, Mary Road, and the Hornet's Nest, Murray was paid privately for the private water pressure tests. Murray was also privately paid to install a water line on Mary Road. Thus, in all instances, Murray received compensation for the private water pressure tests, whether he or Nicolo performed the work.
19. Murray's being paid in connection with this private work was not otherwise than as provided by law.
20. Thus, Murray's receipt of private compensation in relation to matters in which the town had a direct and substantial interest violated s.17(a).
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Murray, 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 Murray:
(1) that Murray pay to the Commission the sum of $750.00 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.17(a);
(2) that Murray 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
David A. Wilson, Acting Executive Director James Murray
Dated: November 28, 2007 Dated: October 26, 2007
I, James Murray, have personally read the above Disposition Agreement. I understand that it is a public document and that by signing it, I will have agreed to all of the terms and conditions therein including payment of $750.00 to the State Ethics Commission.
Dated: October 26, 2007
End Of Decision