Docket No. 645
In the Matter of Peter Vallianos
October 22, 2001
The State Ethics Commission and Peter Vallianos 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.40).
On January 17, 2001, the Commission initiated, pursuant to
G.L. c. 268B, s.40), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations
of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Vallianos. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on April 11, 2001, found
reasonable cause to believe that Vallianos violated G.L. c. 268A.
The Commission and Vallianos now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. Vallianos was, during the time relevant, the chairman of
the Monterey Zoning Board of Appeals ("ZBA"). As such, Vallianos
was a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A,
2. Vallianos is a private attorney. He was hired by Monterey
residents Georgianna and Daniel Eschen to assist them in the
purchase of a cottage in Monterey.
3. The Eschens sought a ZBA special permit to expand the
cottage at 11 Sylvan Road by creating an addition that would
connect to the existing structure and become the new living
quarters for the family. The existing structure would be renovated
and be used to display the family's collection of ocean liner
memorabilia. The existing structure was on a non-conforming lot.
4. The ZRA scheduled July 7, 2000 as the hearing date for the
Eschens' special permit application. At some point prior to the
hearing date, Vallianos informed the ZBA secretary that he should
not be scheduled to participate in the hearing because he was the
Eschens' attorney. The secretary scheduled an alternate ZBA member
to take Vallianos' place at the hearing. Vallianos attended the
hearing. Vallianos became significantly involved in the hearing.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Vallianos stated
that because he was the
Eschens' attorney, he knew he could not represent them
during this hearing. Vallianos then stated that he would
be available to ZBA members to answer any questions
they might have. Vallianos subsequently contributed extensively to the
discussion preceding the vote. In response to questions from board
members, Vallianos ]informed the ZBA of the existing structure's
dimensions and then discussed with the board the size of the lot
and the proposed addition, and the set-back requirements. The
discussion lasted approximately 20 minutes.
5. Vallianos was not compensated for his appearance at the ZBA
Conclusions of Law
6. 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 other than the
municipality in relation to a particular matter in which the town
has a direct and substantial interest,
7. The ZBA's decision whether to grant a special permit was a
particular matter in which the town had a direct and substantial
8. By appearing before the ZBA and advocating on the Eschens'
behalf regarding their application, Vallianos acted as the Eschens'
9. Vallianos' appearance was in relation to the permit, which
is a particular matter.
10. Vallianos' appearance was not within the proper discharge
of official duties.
11. Therefore, by acting as the Eschens' attorney in relation
to a particular matter in which the town had a direct and
substantial interest, Vallianos violated s. 1 7(c).
12. It is no defense that Vallianos, as described above,
stated, prior to his participating at the July 7, 2000 meeting,
that although he was the Eschens' attorney, he was not there to
represent them. Vallianos had been retained by the Eschens to act
as their attorney regarding the purchase of the cottage and the
subsequent permitting issues. He attended the meeting because he
had that attorney-client relationship and interjected himself
significantly into the ZBA discussion of the pen-nit. He had no
independent interest in the matter separate from his role as
attorney. Under the totality of the circumstances, therefore, he
acted as the Eschens' attorney. Vallianos cannot avoid the
conclusion that he acted as the Eschens' attorney merely by stating
that he was not there to represent them when, in fact, that was
what he was doing.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by
Vallianos, 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 Vallianos:
(1) that Vallianos pay to the Commission the sum of $1,250 as
a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.17(c): and
(2) that Vallianos 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