Docket No. 368
In the Matter of George Colella
May 12, 1989
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between
the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and George Colella (Mr.
Colella) pursuant to section 11 of the Commission's
Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to
final Commission order enforceable in the Superior Court pursuant
to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(j).
On January 11, 1989 the Commission initiated a preliminary
inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law,
G.L. c. 268A, involving Mr. Colella, the Mayor of the City of
Revere. The Commission concluded its inquiry and, on May 10, 1989,
found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Colella violated G.L.
c. 268A, s.19.
The Commission and Mr. Colella now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. At all times relevant to this matter, Mr. Colella was the
elected Mayor of the City of Revere, and, accordingly, a municipal
employee as defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(g).
2. J. Elizabeth Colella is Mr. Colella's daughter, and thus a
member of Mr. Colella's immediate family as that term is defined
by G.L. c. 268A, s.1(e).
3. In February of 1984, Mr. Colella hired his daughter, J.
Elizabeth, as a part-time junior clerk-typist for the City of
Revere. She was paid the hourly salary prescribed by city
ordinance, was supervised by Mr. Colella and his senior staff, id
was never promoted to any higher position. She earned $2,909.26 in
1984, $1,562.09 in 1985, $4,935.24 in 1986, $8,372,57 in 1987, and
$8,103.67 in 1988.
4. General Laws, c. 268A, s.19 provides in relevant part that,
except as permitted by s.19, municipal employees are prohibited
from participating in particular matters in which, to their
knowledge, a member of their immediate family has a financial
5. By hiring his daughter for the position of junior clerk-
typist in the City of Revere, and by thereafter supervising her in
that position, Mr. Colella participated as the Mayor of Revere in
particular matters in which his daughter had a financial interest,
thereby violating s.19.
6. On or about November 28, 1988, Mr. Colella received a phone
call from the State Ethics Commission, informing him of the
allegations described above. On or about November 29, 1988, Mr.
Colella suspended his daughter's employment, pending the results
of this investigation.
7. Mr. Colella has stated, and the Commission has no evidence
to that contrary, that he was unaware that G.L. c. 268A, s.19
prohibited him from hiring his daughter for the position she
held. He believed that, because of the unique requirement of
personal rapport between the Mayor and his direct staff, s.19 did
not apply to these positions.
Based on the foregoing facts, 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 agreed to by George Colella:
1. that he pay to the Commission the amount of five hundred
dollars ($500.00) as a civil penalty for his violation of
2. that J. Elizabeth Colella resign her position; and
3. that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact,
conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this
agreement in any related administrative or judicial proceeding
to which the Commission is or may be a party.
 None of the s.19 exceptions applies to this case.
 Ignorance of the law is no defense to a violation of G.L. c.
268A. In the Matter of Joseph C. Doyle, 1980 Ethics Commission
11,13. See also, Scola v. Scola, 318 Mass. 1,7 (1945).
 As general rule, the Commission considers a fine of $1,000.00
or more to be appropriate for a nepotism/hiring violation. See,
e.g. In the Matter of Thomas J. Nolan, 1987 Ethics Commission 283.
Given the mitigating factor of that J. Elizabeth Colella's work
was part-time, the Commission considers a reduction of the fine
End of Decision