Docket No. 593
In the Matter of Lucien Rainville
Date: September 21, 1999
The State Ethics Commission ("the Commission") and Lucien
Rainville ("Rainville") enter into this Disposition Agreement
("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.40).
On December 16, 1998, 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 Rainville. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on May
12, 1999, found reasonable cause to believe that Rainville violated
G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Rainville now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Rainville was, during the time relevant, a part time
call firefighter in the town of Blackstone. As such, Rainville was
a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. 1.
2. In addition, Rainville and his wife own Bert's Body
Works, Inc. ("Bert's"), a Blackstone business that specializes in
repairing and refurbishing ambulances. Rainville is primarily
responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bert's.
3. In spring 1996, the town of Blackstone decided to
refurbish its 1988 ambulance by remounting it on a new chassis and
installing new equipment. Town Meeting approved a transfer of
$60,000 from the ambulance services account to pay for the work.
The cost of a new ambulance would have been about $100,000.
4. Blackstone Fire Chief Michael Sweeney was in charge of
the town's ambulance service.[1/] Chief Sweeney and the town
administrator put together the bid package to request proposals on
refurbishing the ambulance. The town issued the request for
proposals in June or July 1996.
5. Rainville, on behalf of Bert's, intended to bid on the
contract, but before doing so, Rainville asked Chief Sweeney
whether Bert's could bid in light of Rainville's status as a
part-time call firefighter. Chief Sweeney checked with the town
administrator, who responded that he did not think that Rainville's
fire department affiliation would constitute a conflict of interest
under G.L. c. 268A. Thereafter, Rainville prepared and submitted
6. On July 26, 1996, the town administrator opened the
two bids that were received. Bert's bid was for $58,086. The other
bid was for $58,469, did not include transportation costs to and
from the bidder's location in Georgia, and indicated the wrong
chassis model for the remount.
7. Because Bert's bid was $400 lower and otherwise
qualified, the town awarded the contract to Bert's. Rainville, on
behalf of Bert's, requested written confirmation from the town,
which Bert's received in October 1996.
8. At some point in August 1996, Chief Sweeney, who was
supervising the refurbishing work on behalf of
the town, realized that the bid specifications had not included
Onspot chains for the vehicle,[2/] even though Chief Sweeney had
intended to include those items as part of the refurbishing work.
Chief Sweeney discussed this matter with Rainville, who suggested
that the town could save $1,886 on the contract by waiving the
performance bond, and then use that money to pay for the Onspot
9. The town administrator agreed to waive the performance
bond requirement if Bert's submitted a bank check for $58,086.
Instead of a bank check, Bert's provided a regular company check
for $58,086, which Chief Sweeney accepted. Thereafter, Bert's
purchased and installed the Onspot chains for a total cost of
$1,886. Thus, the total cost of the refurbishing work remained
10. In late November or early December 1996, when Bert's
was about to deliver the refurbished ambulance, Rainville submitted
an invoice for $58,086 to the town. Rainville also signed the
contract for the work. On both occasions, Rainville was acting on
behalf of Bert's.
11. Bert's delivered the refurbished ambulance in
mid-December 1996, and received payment from the town in the amount
of $58,086. The town received valid service for its money.
12. Section 17(c) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal
employee from acting as agent for anyone other than the
municipality in connection with a particular matter in which the
municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.
13. The contract to refurbish and remount the ambulance
was a particular matter.
14. The town was a party to that contract and had a
direct and substantial interest in the particular matter.
15. Rainville represented Bert's in all its dealings with
the town in connection with the contract particular matter.
Specifically, Rainville acted as Bert's agent in the following
situations: submitting the bid for the work; requesting written
confirmation of the contract award; negotiating certain changes
(regarding the waiving of the performance bond to pay for the
Onspot chains); issuing an invoice to the town; and signing the
16. Thus, Rainville acted as agent for someone other than
the town in connection with a particular matter in which the town
was a party and had a direct and substantial interest. By doing so,
Rainville violated s. I 7(c).[4/]
17. Rainville cooperated in this investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by
Rainville, 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 Rainville:
(1) that Rainville pay to the Commission the sum of five
hundred dollars ($500) as a civil penalty for violating
G.L. c. 268A, s. 17(c); and
(2) that Rainville 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.
[1/] Sweeney and Rainville are related by marriage, but that
fact is not relevant to this disposition agreement.
[2/] Onspot chains are mounted to the underside of the vehicle
and install on tires automatically at the push of a button, for
better traction in snow.
[3/] In fact, Bert's had provided the town with an alternative
bid of $56,200 in its original proposal, indicating that the town
could save S 1,886 on the contract by waiving the performance bond
requirement. Bert's usually provided this option in addition to its
[4/] In addition, Rainville's conduct raises issues under s.20
of the conflict of interest law, which prohibits a municipal
employee from having a financial interest, direct or indirect, in
a contract made by a municipal agency of his own municipality, in
which the municipality is an interested party and of which
financial interest the employee has knowledge or reason to know. In
this case, Rainville, as a co-owner of Bert's, had a financial
interest in the contract to refurbish the ambulance, the town was
a party to that contract, and Rainville knew of his own financial
interest. Thus, it appears that Rainville violated s.20. We find it
somewhat mitigating, although not a complete defense, that
Rainville raised the conflict of interest issue before bidding on
the contract and received word from the town administrator that it
was not a problem for him to bid. Moreover, this fact mitigates
Rainville's s. 17(c) violations somewhat.
End of Decision