Docket No. 578
In the Matter of Herbert Hohengasser
Date: October 22, 1998
The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Herbert
Hohengasser ("Hohengasser") enter into this Disposition Agreement
("Agreement") pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission's Enforcement
Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to find order
enforceable in the Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.
On August 5, 1997, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L.
c. 268B, s. 4(j), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of
the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Hohengasser. The
Commission has conducted its inquiry and, on September 23, 1998,
found reasonable cause to believe that Hohengasser violated G.L. c.
268A, s. 19.
The Commission and Hohengasser now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Hohengasser was, during the time relevant, a Town of
Greenfield alternate plumbing and gas fitting inspector. As such,
he was a municipal employee as that term is defined in G.L. c.
268A, s. 1.
2. As an alternate plumbing inspector, Hohengasser issued
plumbing and gas permits and conducted preliminary and final
inspections of the work done (pursuant to the permits) to ensure
compliance with the building code. He only did this when the
regular inspector was unavailable.
3. The town paid Hohengasser for these inspections as follows:
$581 in 1996; $308 in 1995; and $347 in 1994.
4. Until February 1995, Hohengasser was doing business as a
private plumbing contractor through a corporation, Hohengasser
Plumbing & Heating, Inc. ("HP&H").
5. On March 1, 1995, Hohengasser sold his stock in the company to
his son Daniel. Thereafter, Hohengasser had no financial interest
in or connection with HP&H.
6. Hohengasser acted as a plumbing inspector regarding the
following HP&H jobs:
(1) August 8, 1995, issued plumbing permit #6003 to HP&H
regarding installing a backflow preventer at the Franklin Medical
Center; signed off on the final inspection the same day;
(2) August 10, 1995, issued plumbing permit #6006 to HP&H
regarding plumbing repairs necessitated by a fire at 166 Hope
Street; signed off on a rough inspection on August 9, 1995;
(3) August 12, 1995, issued plumbing permit # to HP&H
for replacing a boiler at 21 Davis Street; signed off on the rough
inspection on August 17, 1995;
(4) August 15, 1995, issued gas fitting permit #4491 to HP&H
for replacing a boiler at 26 Shattuck Street; signed off on a boiler
inspection on August 19, 1995;
(5) August 24, 1995, inspected 24 Shattuck
Street (a second floor bathroom was remodeled);
(6) September 13, 1995, inspected 118 Hastings Street and 47
White Ave. (water and heating systems);
(7) September 15, 1995, inspected 212 Davis Street (final
(8) September 21, 1995 inspected 26 Shattuck Street (additional
7. As HP&H's owner, Hohengasser's son Daniel had a financial
interest in these inspections.
8. Except as otherwise permitted by that section, General Law c.
268A, s. 19 prohibits a municipal employee from participating as
such an employee in a particular matter in which to his knowledge
a member of his immediate family has a financial interest.
9. The decisions to issue permits and the inspection
determinations were particular matters.
10. Hohengasser participated in those particular matters
by issuing the permits and/or performing the inspections.
11. At the time he so acted, Hohengasser was aware
that his son Daniel owned HP&H. Therefore, he knew that his son had
a financial interest in these particular matters.
12. Therefore, by issuing the permits and performing the
inspections as described above, Hohengasser participated as a
municipal employee in particular matters in which to his knowledge
an immediate family member had a financial interest, thereby
violating s. 19.
In view of the foregoing violations of G. L. c. 268A by Hohengasser,
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 Hohengasser:
(1) that Hohengasser pay to the Commission the sum of one
thousand dollars ($1,000.00) as a civil penalty for violating G.L.
c. 268A, s. 19; and
(2) that Hohengasser 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.
 For example, he was not an officer, director or employee of
 Apparently, the plumber submitted the permit application and
began the work on or before August 9, 1995.
 Permit applications are submitted to the building inspector's
office along with the fee. The application form is given a permit
number and then forwarded to the plumbing inspector. Permit nos.
6005 and 6006 were applied for on August 10, 1995; however,
Hohengasser reviewed them on different days.
 None of the exception applies.
 Particular matter" means any judicial or other proceeding,
application submission, request for 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, s. 1(k).
 "Participate" means 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, s. 1(j).
 "Immediate family" means the employee and his spouse, and their
parents, children, brothers and sisters. G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(e).
End of Decision