Docket No. 370
In the Matter of Robert Gillis
June 2, 1989
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between
the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Robert Gillis (Mr.
Gillis) 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 June 8, 1987, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c.
268B, s.4(a), a prelimmary inquiry into a possible violation of
the conflict of interest law, G L. c. 268A by Mr. Gillis while he
was the Chief of the Brockton Police Department (BPD). The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on November 21, 1988,
found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Gillis violated G.L. c.
The Commission and Mr. Gillis now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. At the times here relevant, Mr. Gillis was the Chief of the
BPD. Mr. Gillis was appointed as BPD Chief by Brockton Mayor Carl
D. Pitaro, with the confirmation of the Brockton City Council, and
served as BPD Chief from January, 1984 until November, 1987. Mr.
Gillis was, therefore, during the period here relevant, a municipal
employee as defined in s.1(g) of G.L. c. 268A. Prior to becoming
BPD Chief, Mr. Gillis was a BPD Sergeant.
2. Mr, Gillis has a son Andrew Gillis (Andrew). In 1986, Andrew
applied for a civilian telephone operator (CTO) position with the
BPD. Prior to Andrew's formally applying for the CTO position, Mr.
GilIis communicated with Mayor Pitaro concerning Andrew's seeking
the position. In a letter dated September 12, 1986, Mr. Gillis
wrote to Mayor Pitaro,
May I have an opportunity to discuss with you the filling of
vacancies in the Telephone Operator's area? I have at least one
vacancy coming up this month, and two to four weeks are required
for training. A Civil Service list will be available shortly,
but in the meantime the slot must be filled. (We have four
permanent positions and ten provisional.)
3. On or about September 12, 1986, Mr. Gillis met with Mayor
Pitaro in the Mayor's office and discussed with the Mayor Andrew's
applying for the CTO position. Subsequently, in a letter dated
September 16, 1986, Mr. Gillis wrote to Mayor Pitaro,
In accordance with my talk with you, and in the absence of a
Civil Service list, I enclose herewith a copy of [sic] resume
of my son, Andrew A. Gillis, who has requested consideration
for the position of Civil Telephone Operator in this Department.
With your approval, I should like to start his employment when
Kevin Smith's resignation is effective.
4. Shortly thereafter, on or about September 21, 1986, Andrew
was hired as a CTO for the BPD. Andrew was appointed to the CTO
position by Mayor Pitaro. Mr. Gillis, as Chief, signed the
"Notification of Personnel Action" (NPA) form for his son's hiring,
authorizing Andrew's placement on the BPD payroll (the NPA form was
also signed by Mayor Pitaro and Brockton Personnel Director Marge
5. Andrew worked the 4:00 P.M. to midnight shift as a CTO and
was paid $6.40 an hour for his services. Andrew resigned his CTO
position in May, 1987, when questions concerning the propriety of
his appointment were raised.
6. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A provides in relevant part that,
except as permitted by s.19, a municipal employee is prohibited
from participating, as such an employee, in a particular matter in
which, to his knowledge, a member of his immediate family has a
7. The appointment of Andrew as a CTO was a particular matter
for s.19 purposes. Mr. Gillis participated in that particular
matter by communicating (by letter and in person) with Mayor Pitaro
concerning that appointment. Because the CTO position was a paid
position, Andrew had, at the time of the appointment, a financial
interest in the appointment. Mr. Giliis was aware at the time he
discussed his son's appointment with Mayor Pitaro that his son
would receive compensation for his services as a CTO, should he be
8. By participating in the appointment of his son as a CTO, as
described above, Mr. Gillis participated as BPD Chief in a
particular matter in which his son had a financial interest,
thereby violating G.L. c. 268A, s.19.
9. Pursuant to s.19(b)(1), Mr. Gillis could have received a
written determination from his appointing authority, Mayor Pitaro,
permitting his participation in matters in which his son, Andrew,
had a financial interest, including those described above. Provided
this written determination was filed with the city clerk and made
a matter of public record, it would have exempted Mr. Gillis from
the restrictions of s.19(a) and permitted his participation as
above-described. Here, however, there was no written determination
by Mayor Pitaro that Mr. GiIlis could participate in matters in
which Andrew bad a financial interest.
Nonetheless, the Commission has given some consideration to the
fact that Mr. GiIlis' appointing authority was aware of his actions
concerning his son. Accordingly, while the Commission can impose
a fine of up to $2,000 for each violation of s.19, it has
determined that the relatively small fine imposed here properly
reflects this mitigating factor. That the Commission has insisted
on a public resolution and a fine reflects the importance the
Commission places on proper compliance with s.19's disclosure and
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.19, 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 Mr. GilIis:
1. that Mr. Gillls pay to the Commission the sum of two hundred
Filty dollars ($250.00) as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c.
268A, s.19; and
2. that Mr. Gillis waive all rights to contest the findings of
fact, conclusions of law, and terms and conditions contained in
this agreement and any related administrative or a judicial
proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party.
 Section 19(b)(1) provides: (b) It shall not be a violation of
this section (1) if the municipal employee first advises the
official responsible for appointment to his position of the nature
and circumstances of the particular matter and makes full
disclosure of such financial interest, and receives in advance a
written determination made by that official that the interest is
not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity
of the service's which the municipality may expect from the
 See, eg., In the Matter of John J. Hanlon, 1986 SEC 253, 255,
where the disposition agreement between the subject and the
Commission stated, regarding similar disclosure and exemption
provisions in the state counterpart to s.19,
These provisions are more than mere technicalities. They protect
the public interest from potentially serious harm. The steps of
the disclosure and exemption procedure particularly that the
determination be in writing and a copy filed with the Commission
are designed to prevent an appointing authority from making an
uninformed, ill-advised or badly motivated decision. Imposing
a fine also should act as a deterrent in making clear that
ultimately the primary responsibility for compliance with these
provisions rests on the public employee seeking the exemption.
(At the local level the written exemption would be filed with the
town clerk rather than with the Commission.)