July 28, 2010

 

Disposition Agreement

 

The State Ethics Commission and Guy Corbosiero ("Corbosiero") 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, § 4(j).


On March 19, 2010, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Corbosiero. On June18, 2010, the Commission concluded its inquiry and found reasonable cause to believe that Corbosiero violated G.L. c. 268A.


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

 

Findings of Fact


1. At all relevant times, Corbosiero was an appointed member of the Town of Winchendon ("Town") Planning Board ("Planning Board").


2. In 2008, the Winchendon Housing Authority ("WHA") sought zoning relief in order to create more affordable housing in the Town. The WHA approached the Planning Board agent, who drafted a warrant article ("Article") that would create an "affordable housing overlay district" ("Overlay District"). The Overlay District would allow the WHA to create a total of 130 new housing units on five properties in town.


3. One of the properties, known as "The Poland School," is across the street from the house owned by Corbosiero's sister and her husband ("House"). A second Overlay District property, known as Parcel 113, is a block away from the House.


4. The creation of overlay districts requires approval by town meeting. In spring 2008, the WHA sought Planning Board support for the Overlay District, with the intent of having the Planning Board recommend the Article at the May 2008 town meeting. During a discussion of the Overlay District at the April 15, 2008 Planning Board meeting, Corbosiero, in his capacity as a Planning Board member, spoke against the Overlay District and voted not to recommend the Article to town meeting. The WHA subsequently withdrew its plan to bring the Overlay District to town meeting. In spring 2009, the WHA again sought Planning Board support for a revised version of the Article, to be considered at the May 2009 town meeting. At the April 21, 2009 Planning Board meeting, Corbosiero, in his capacity as a Planning Board member, said he "vehemently" opposed the Overlay District and moved to not recommend the Article. Corbosiero and another Planning Board member voted in favor of his motion, another member voted against it, and one member abstained. Thus, Corbosiero's motion carried, and the Planning Board did not recommend the Article to town meeting.

 

Conclusions of Law


5. As a Winchendon Planning Board member, Corbosiero was at all relevant times a municipal employee as defined in G.L. c. 268A, § 1.

 

6. Except as otherwise permitted by exemptions to the section, [1] § 19 of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee from participating [2] as such an employee in a particular matter [3] in which, to his knowledge, he or an immediate family [4] member has a financial interest. [5]

 

7. The Planning Board' s decision on whether to support the Overlay District was a particular matter.

 

8. Corbosiero, as a Planning Board member, participated in the particular matter on two occasions by discussing and voting on both occasions on the Overlay District.

 

9. Corbosiero's sister is a member of Corbosiero's immediate family.

 

10. Under the conflict of interest law, a property owner is presumed to have a financial interest in matters affecting abutting and nearby property. This presumption may be rebutted by evidence clearly negating the presumed financial interest. See Commission Advisory 05-02: Voting on Matters Affecting Abutting or Nearby Property. Corbosiero's sister had a financial interest in the particular matter because the Overlay District involved properties that were, respectively, across the street and a block away from her property, the House.

 

11. At the time of his participation, Corbosiero knew that his sister had a financial interest in the particular matter.

 

12. Accordingly, by participating in the particular matter concerning the Overlay District, which involved properties that were, respectively, across the street and a block away from his sister's House, Corbosiero violated § 19.

 

In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Corbosiero, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings, based on the following terms and conditions agreed to by Corbosiero:

 

(1) that Corbosiero pay in accordance with the appendix to this Agreement attached hereto and incorporated herein to the Commission the sum of $2,000 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, § 19; and


(2) that Corbosiero waive all rights to contest, in this or any other administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement.

 

STATE ETHICS COMMISSION

 

 

       //signed//                                7/5/10     
Guy Corbosiero                             Date 

 

 

    //signed//                                    7/28/10    
Karen L. Nober                             Date
Executive Director

 

 

I, Guy Corbosiero, 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 $2,000 to the State Ethics Commission.
 

    //signed//                                    7/5/10    
Guy Corbosiero                              Date


 



[1] None of the exemptions applies.

[2] "Participate" means to participate in agency action or in a particular matter personally and substantially as a state, county or municipal employee, through approval, disapproval, decision, recommendation, the rendering of advice, investigation or otherwise. G.L. c. 268A, § 1(j).

[3] "Particular matter" means any judicial or other proceeding, application, submission, request for a ruling or other determination, contract, claim, controversy, charge, accusation, arrest, decision, determination, finding, but excluding enactment of general legislation by the general court and petitions of cities, towns, counties and districts for special laws related to their governmental organizations, powers, duties, finances and property. G.L. c. 268A, § 1(k).

[4] "Immediate family" means the employee and his spouse, and their parents, children, brothers and sisters. G.L. c. 268A, § 1(e).

[5] "Financial interest" means any economic interest of a particular individual that is not shared with a substantial segment of the population of the municipality. See Graham v. McGrail, 370 Mass. 133 (1976). This definition has embraced private interests, no matter how small, which are direct, immediate or reasonably foreseeable. See EC-COI-84-98. The interest can be affected in either a positive or negative way. EC-COI-84-96.