Docket No. 324
In the Matter of Thomas J. Nolan
March 6, 1987
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between
the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Thomas J. Nolan (Mayor
Nolan) 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 November 17,1986, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L.
c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into a possible violation
of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Mayor Nolan of
Chelsea. The Commission has concluded that inquiry and, on February
2,1987, found reasonable cause to believe that Mayor Nolan violated
G.L. c. 268A, s.19.
The Commission and Mayor Nolan now agree to the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Mayor Nolan is the mayor of Chelsea, having been sworn in for
his first two-year term in January 1986. Mayor Nolan is therefore
a municipal employee as defined in s.1(g) of G.L. c. 268A. Prior
to becoming mayor, Mayor Nolan was a Chelsea alderman for two two-
year terms between 1980 and 1984.
2. The Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) is responsible, pursuant
to G.L. c. 121B, s.3, for public housing in Chelsea. The CHA is
managed and governed, pursuant to G.L. c. 121B, s.5, by five
members (called "commissioners"), one of whom is appointed by the
state Department of Community Affairs and four of whom are
appointed by the mayor of Chelsea, subject to Chelsea Board of
Aldermen (Board of Aldermen) approval.
3. CHA members are compensated for their services. CHA member
compensation is determined on a quarterly basis, with each
commissioner currently serving receiving an equal share of a total
of two percent of the CHA income (less certain deductions) from
certain CHA housing. During the past four years, annual
compensation for CHA members has risen from approximately $1,000
to approximately $3,500.
4. On or about June 6,1986, Mayor Nolan appointed his brother,
Robert Nolan, to be a member of the CHA, and by letter requested
the Board of Aldermen to confirm the appointment. Robert Nolan's
appointment was subsequently confirmed by the Board of Aldermen by
a 9-0-0 vote.
5. Mayor Nolan neither sought nor received any legal counsel
regarding his appointment of his brother prior to that appointment
6. On July 3, 1986, a check in the amount of $142.50 was issued
to Robert Nolan by the CHA for his third quarter CHA commissioner's
"salary." On or about July 7,1986, Robert Nolan cashed the CHA
check. Although, on or about July 21,1986, Robert Nolan, on the
advice of the Chelsea city solicitor, filed a notarized
"election to refuse and declination of compensation" with the CHA,
he retained the $142.50 that he had previously received.
7. On or before November 24,1986, Mayor Nolan was notified that
the Commission had authorized a preliminary inquiry into the
legality of his appointment of Robert Nolan to the CHA.
8. On January 28, 1987, Robert Nolan resigned from the CHA.
9. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A provides in relevant part that,
except as permitted[*] 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
10. The appointment of Robert Nolan to the CHA was a particular
matter." Mayor Nolan "participated" in that matter by making the
appointment and by requesting that the Board of Aldermen confirm
it. Because the position was a paid position, Robert Nolan had, at
the time of the appointment, a "financial interest," in the
appointment. Mayor Nolan was aware at the time he appointed his
brother that his brother would receive compensation for his
services as a CHA member.
11. By appointing his brother to be a CHA member, as described
above, Mayor Nolan participated as mayor of Chelsea in a particular
matter in which his brother had a financial interest, thereby
violating G.L. c. 268A, s.19.
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 Mayor Nolan:
1. that he pay to the Commission the sum of one thousand
dollars ($1,000) as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c.
268A, s.19 by appointing his brother to membership on the CHA;
2. 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 apply to this case.