Docket No. 448

In the Matter of Thomas C. Norton

December 15, 1992

Disposition Agreement




This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into
between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Thomas C.
Norton (Senator Norton) pursuant to Section S 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 December 12, 1990, the Commission initiated,pursuant to
G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible
violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by
Senator Norton. On January 16, 1991, the Commission initiated a
second preliminary inquiry


Page 616

into possible violations of the financial disclosure law, G.L. c.
268B, by Senator Norton. The Commission concluded these inquiries
and, on February 19, 1992, found reasonable cause to believe that
Senator Norton had violated G.L. c. 268A and G.L. c. 268B, and
authorized the initiation of adjudicatory proceedings. On August
5, 1992, the Commission's Enforcement Division (Enforcement
Division) issued an Order to Show Cause, commencing adjudicatory
proceedings. The Order to Show Cause alleged that Senator Norton
had violated G.L. c. 268A, s.6 and s.23(b)(3), by and in
connection with his supervision of his sister during her
employment by the Senate, and G.L. c. 268B, s.7, by failing to
disclose certain information on his annual Statements of
Financial Interests filed with the Commission. On August 25,
1992, Senator Norton answered the Order to Show Cause, denying
that he had violated the law and stating several affirmative
defenses.[1]

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

1. Senator Norton is a Massachusetts state senator, an
elected and salaried office which he has held since January 1985.
As a senator, Norton is a state employee as that term is defined
in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(q). Prior to his election as a senator,
Senator Norton was a state representative from 1973 through 1984.

2. Senator Norton has a sister named Elizabeth Bevilacqua
(Bevilacqua). From 1978 through 1984, Bevilacqua was employed
full-time by the state House of Representatives (House) as a
legislative aide. Bevilacqua was hired as a legislative aide by
the House Rules Committee. While she was employed by the House,
Bevilacqua was assigned to the Energy Committee, which was
co-chaired by Senator Norton, who was then serving in the House.
From January 1985 through 1991, Bevilacqua was employed full-time
by the state Senate as a legislative aide. Bevilacqua was hired
as a legislative aide by the Senate Rules Committee. During her
employment by the Senate, Bevilacqua was assigned to the
Government Regulations Committee, which was co-chaired by Senator
Norton.

3. Bevilacqua was one of seven Senate employees, including
legislative aides and secretaries, assigned to the Government
Regulations Committee. As committee co-chairman, Senator Norton
directly supervised the Senate employees assigned to the
Government Regulations Committee, including Bevilacqua. As
co-chairman of the Government Regulations Committee and
Bevilacqua's direct supervisor, Senator Norton assigned work to
Bevilacqua, determined where and when Bevilacqua would perform
her work for the Senate, and approved Bevilacqua's vacation
schedule. While employed by the Senate, Bevilacqua was assigned
by Senator Norton to work at his district office in Fall
River.[2]

4. Except as otherwise permitted by that section, G.L. c.
268A, s.6 prohibits a state employee from participating as such
in any particular matter in which, to his knowledge, a member of
his immediate family has a financial interest. None of the
exceptions to G.L. c. 268A, s.6 apply in this case.

5. Bevilacqua is a member of Senator Norton's immediate
family and had a financial interest, known to Senator Norton, in
her supervision as a Senate legislative aide. For example,
Bevilacqua had a financial interest in her work assignments as a
legislative aide, including where she was assigned to work, and
in the approval of her vacation schedule. The supervision of
Bevilacqua's Senate employment encompassed particular matters
within the meaning of G.L. c. 268A.

6. By supervising Bevilacqua, as set forth above, Senator
Norton participated officially in particular matters in which a
member of his immediate family had a financial interest which was
known to him. In so doing, Senator Norton violated G.L. c. 268A,
s.6.

7. In January 1986, Senator Norton moved his district office
into office space at the South Main Place mall (the Mall) in Fall
River.

8. Also in January 1986, Senator Norton organized Patrick
Marketing, Inc. (Patrick Marketing) as a Massachusetts
corporation. According to the corporation's articles of
organization, the purpose of Patrick Marketing was to provide
advertising, public relations and marketing services. The
corporation's address was the same as that of Senator Norton's
district office. Senator Norton was the sole owner and the
president of Patrick Marketing.

9. In early 1986, Senator Norton, acting privately as a
licensed real estate broker, was instrumental in a Chinese
restaurant becoming a tenant in the Mall. The Mall's operator
paid Senator Norton a $4,500 commission for his assistance in
this real estate matter. Subsequently in early 1986, Senator
Norton deposited the $4,500 commission into a checking account
for Patrick Marketing which he had opened.

Page 617

10. The initial $4,500 deposited into the Patrick Marketing
checking account was substantially expended by April 1987, by
which time the checking account had a balance of less than $500.
The checking account funds were expended for various purposes,
including to pay for a telephone system for Senator Norton's
district office, to purchase a camera and other photographic
equipment for the district office and to pay the corporation's
state and federal taxes.

11. In May 1987, Patrick Marketing began to receive monthly
payments of $200 from Senator Norton's campaign committee,
"Friends of Tom Norton." According to the campaign committee's
campaign finance reports, filed with the Office of Campaign and
Political Finance (OCPF), these payments were for "rent." These
payments ceased after November-1988, following OCPF's informing
the campaign committee that the payments were prohibited. During
the nineteen months that Patrick Marketing received these
payments from Senator Norton's campaign committee, the
corporation's checking account funds were expended to pay for the
rental of Senator Norton's district office's telephone system and
to pay the corporation's state and federal taxes. Thereafter, a
small balance was maintained in the Patrick Marketing checking
account and the district office's telephone system continued to
be paid for out of that account through 1990.

12. State and federal tax returns for the years 1986 through
1990 were filed for Patrick Marketing. The Patrick Marketing tax
returns were signed by Senator Norton as corporate president. The
1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989 tax returns reported annual gross
receipts of $4,500, $2,080, $2,468 and $1,738 respectively. The
1990 tax returns reported no receipts. Patrick Marketing was
dissolved as a corporation in late 1990.

13. As a state senator, Senator Norton has annually filed
Statements of Financial Interests (SFIs) with the Commission
pursuant to G.L. c. 268B. On his 1986 SFI, prepared and filed in
1987, Senator Norton did not disclose that he had received $4,500
in income as a result of the commission paid to him in connection
with his facilitating the Chinese restaurant becoming a tenant at
the Mall. Nor did Senator Norton disclose on his 1986 SFI that he
had a financial interest in Patrick Marketing. On his 1987, 1988,
and 1989 SFIs, respectively prepared and filed in 1988, 1989 and
1990, Senator Norton did not disclose his financial interest in
Patrick Marketing. The information omitted by Senator Norton from
his SFIs was required to be disclosed on those forms, pursuant to
G.L. c. 268B, s.5(g)(1).[3]

14. Section 7 of G.L.c. 268B prohibits the filing of a false
SFI. A false filing need not be willful or intentional to violate
G.L. c. 268B, s.7. The statute requires a commitment to a
reasonable degree of care and diligence in filing SFIs. See In re
Logan, 1981 SEC 40, 49. By not disclosing the information on his
SFIs as set forth above, Senator Norton negligently, rather than
willfully or intentionally, failed to exercise reasonable care
and ordinary diligence in filing those SFIs. In so doing, Senator
Norton violated G.L.c. 268B, s.7.

In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A and
G.L.c. 268B by Senator Norton, 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 Senator Norton:

1. that Senator Norton pay to the Commission the sum of one
thousand dollars ($1,000.00) as a civil penalty for violating
G.L. c. 268A, s.6;

2. that Senator Norton will amend his 1986, 1987, 1988 and
1989 SFIs to include the above-stated previously omitted
information; and

3. that Senator Norton 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 proceeding to which the Commission is
or may be a party.[4]

-----------------------------------

[1] The Order to Show Cause alleged that Senator Norton
violated G.L. c. 268A, s.23(b)(3), in his supervision of his
sister by acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable
person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to
conclude that his sister could unduly enjoy his favor in the
performance of his official duties, in that Senator Norton had
allegedly allowed his sister to work under conditions which made
it impossible to determine whether or not she had performed her
duties as a Senate employee. This allegation was based upon
information obtained during the Enforcement Division's
investigation of this matter, including evidence that no records
were kept of the hours that Senator Norton's sister worked or of
the work that she performed as a Senate employee. Following a
pre-hearing conference in this matter on October 8, 1992, the
Enforcement Division

Page 618

and Senator Norton exchanged discovery, formally and informally,
and Senator Norton provided further evidence, satisfactory to the
Enforcement Division, that his sister had performed substantial
work as a Senate employee and that her terms and conditions of
employment were the same as those of the other Senate employees
supervised by Senator Norton. Accordingly, the Enforcement
Division and Senator Norton have agreed to dismiss the allegation
of the Order to Show Cause that Senator Norton violated G.L. c.
268A, s.23(b)(3). Therefore, the Commission accepts the agreement
of the parties and dismisses that allegation.

-----------------------------------

[2] During the period that Senator Norton has been a
senator, he has maintained a district office at various locations
in Fall River. Senator Norton's district office is staffed by
several of the Senate employees who are assigned to the
Government Regulations Committee. The district office staff
members perform various services for Senator Norton's
constituents. From 1986 until 1991, Senator Norton's District
office was located at the South Main Place mall in Fall River.



-----------------------------------
[3] Senator Norton asserts that, in making the above stated
omissions, he acted in reliance upon the erroneous advice of his
attorney, now deceased, that the information omitted need not be
reported because Patrick Marketing was essentially inactive. The
Enforcement Division's investigation confirmed that Senator
Norton consulted with his former attorney in connection with the
preparation of his SFIs. The Commission finds, however, that any
such reliance by Senator Norton upon his attorney's erroneous
advice was not reasonable given Patrick Marketing's continued,
albeit limited, activities through 1990.

[4] No civil penalty is being imposed for Senator Norton's
violations of G.L. c. 268B, s.7. consistent with Commission
precedent, no civil penalty is being imposed for Senator Norton's
1986 SFI omissions because they were made in 1987, prior to the
Commission's making clear that negligent SFI omissions are
subject to public sanction. See O'Brien Disposition Agreement,
1989 SEC 418, 421 ftnt. 11. No civil penalty is being imposed for
Senator Norton's 1987, 1988 and 1989 negligent SFI omissions
because the Commission finds this Disposition Agreement itself to
be an adequate sanction for those violations in light of all of
the circumstances of this case, including the fact that Patrick
Marketing was relatively inactive after 1986.

Page 619