This Disposition Agreement is entered into between the State
Ethics Commission and Suzanne Traini pursuant to Section 5 of the
Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a
consented-to final order enforceable in Superior Court, pursuant to
G.L. c. 268B, s. 4(j).
On June 25, 2002, 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 Traini. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on November 26, 2002,
found reasonable cause to believe that Traini violated G.L. c.
268A, s. 19.
The Commission and Traini now agree to the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. Traini is a Southborough Board of Health member.
2. On or about September 18, 2000, Traini signed offers to
purchase property at 26 Lynbrook Road (the "Property") and
surrounding land for a total of $575,000. Her offers were
contingent on zoning, septic and conservation commission approvals,
and were secured with a $500 deposit.
3. At its October 10, 2000 meeting, the Board of Health
approved and signed septic permits for two lots on the Property.
At that meeting, Traini verbally disclosed her financial interest
in these permits and recused herself from the board's actions on
4. Sometime prior to January 23, 2001, both the
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and the Massachusetts
District Commission, at the urging of an abutter, contacted
Southborough's Public Health Director to discuss concerns as to
whether the Property's setback from a nearby waterway was
sufficient. The agencies' position at that time was that the
setback from the waterway should be 400 feet. The Southborough
Board of Health's longstanding position was that the setback need
only be 200 feet. The Property's setback was more than the 200
feet required by the Board of Health, but less than the 400 feet
that the state agencies believed was appropriate.
5. At the January 23, 2001 Board of Health meeting, the
Public Health Director, based on the calls he had received from the
MWRA and the MDC, said that the Board of Health should rescind the
Property's permits and instead hold a public hearing with an eye
toward granting a variance for the Property.
6. At that January 23, 2001 meeting, although advised to
abstain by a fellow board member, Traini recommended that the board
to adhere to its longstanding position that the setback only needed
to be 200 feet. Traini also stated that the board could not under
Title V rescind a septic permit once a construction permit had been
7. The Board of Health took no action on the Property at its
January 23, 2001 meeting. The permits remained in effect.
8. In March 2001, Traini executed a purchase and sale
agreement for the Property at a reduced price of $507,500, secured
with a $25,000 deposit.
9. Traini's purchase of the Property fell through after the
Board of Health at its March 27, 2001 meeting suspended its septic
permits for the Property. (The suspension was unrelated to the
setback issue discussed at the January 23, 2001 meeting.) Traini
forfeited $5,000 of her deposit.
10. Traini cooperated with the Commission's investigation of
Conclusions of Law
11. Except as otherwise permitted in that section, s. 19
prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such in a
particular matter in which she has a financial interest. None of
the exemptions apply.
12. As a Board of Health member, Traini is a municipal
employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. 1(g).
13. The Board of Health's decision to maintain its policy of
setback distances from the Sudbury River Aqueduct, and not to
consider rescinding the Property's permits, was a particular
14. Because Traini had outstanding a written offer to
purchase the Property, which was contingent on obtaining all
necessary town permits, she, to her knowledge, had a financial
interest in this particular matter.
15. At the January 23, 2001 meeting of the Board of Health,
by discussing the propriety of the Board changing its policy and
considering rescinding the Property's permits, Traini participated
in her capacity as a Board of Health member, thereby violating s.
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Traini,
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 Traini:
(1) that Traini pay to the Commission the sum of $1,500.00 as
a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s. 19; and
(2) that she 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
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
/s/Peter Sturges, Executive Director
Dated: November 12, 2003
Dated: October 27, 2003
I, Suzanne Traini, 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 $1,500.00 to the State Ethics
Dated: October 27, 2003
 According to Traini, her intention was to point out that
the board's rescission of the permits would be improper under Title
V. While one's intentions may be a mitigating factor, the
application of s. 19 is triggered by any participation in a
particular matter in which a municipal employee has a financial
interest, regardless of motivation or intention. In this case,
moreover, had the board decided to change its setback policy and
consider rescinding the Property's permits - and it is impossible
to say what they would have done had Traini recused herself - such
a step would have at the very least delayed her acquisition of the
property, always a matter of critical importance in real estate