Docket No. 651
In the Matter of Barry Vinton
December 27, 2001
This Disposition Agreement is entered into between the State
Ethics Commission and Barry Vinton pursuant to Section 5 of the
Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a
consented-to final order enforceable in Superior Court, pursuant to
GL. c. 268B, s.4(j).
On November 13, 2001, the Commission initiated, pursuant to
GL. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations
of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Vinton. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on December 19, 200 1,
found reasonable cause to believe that Vinton violated G.L. c.
268A, s. 19.
The Commission and Vinton now agree to the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. Vinton is the police chief in the town of Plympton.
2. In March 1998, Vinton recommended to the Board of Selectmen
("BOS") that the board hire his wife, Carol, as the police
department clerk at a wage $6.75 per hour, for a maximum of 19
hours per week. The position was not posted. The BOS voted to hire
Carol for the position.
3. In spring 1999, Vinton appeared before the BOS and
recommended that the clerk position be funded for 25 hours per
week. Vinton's budget request submitted to the BOS and the Finance
Committee ("FinCom") included funding for the clerk position at 25
hours per week. The budget was subsequently approved by the BOS and
the FinCom, but the clerk's position was funded at 22 hours per
week. Plympton municipal employees must work at least 20 hours per
week to receive benefits. The increase to 22 hours enabled Carol to
receive town benefits.
4. In spring 2000, Vinton recommended to the BOS that the
clerk's position be increased to 40 hours per week for fiscal year
2001. Vinton's budget request submitted to the BOS and the FinCom
included a salary increase for the clerk's position but did not
specify an amount of weekly hours. The budget was subsequently
approved by the BOS and the FinCom, but the clerk's position was
funded at 3.2 hours per week. Effective July 1, 2001, Carol began
working 32-hour weeks.
5. From March 1998, through early March, 2000, Vinton signed
payroll warrants that included his wife's salary.
Conclusions of Law
6. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A prohibits municipal employees
from participating in their official capacity in particular matters
in which, to their knowledge, they or an immediate family member
have a financial interest.
7. As the police chief, Vinton is a municipal employee as that
term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1.
8. The decisions to hire Carol as the police department clerk,
fund her position, increase her hours, and approve the payroll
warrants enabling her to be paid, were all particular matters.
9. By making the recommendations to the BOS that Carol be
hired and, subsequently, that her hours be increased, as well as
submitting budget requests that would fund these increased hours,
and signing payroll warrants enabling her to be paid, Vinton
participated in his official capacity in these particular matters.
10. Vinton's wife is an immediate family member as that
term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s. 1.
11. Vinton's wife had a financial interest in each of these
particular matters as each involved her compensation.
12. Vinton knew of his wife's financial interest in these
personnel decisions when he participated.
13. Therefore, by making the recommendations to the BOS that
Carol be hired and that her hours be increased, as well as
submitting budget requests funding her position and signing payroll
warrants enabling her to be paid, Vinton participated as police
chief in particular matters in which he knew his immediate family
member had a financial interest, thereby violating s.19 on each
In view of the foregoing violation of GL. c. 268A by Vinton,
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 Vinton:
(1) that Vinton pay to the Commission the sum of $2,000 as a
civil penalty for his course of conduct in violating G.L. c.
268A, s. 19:
(2) that he 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
 "Immediate family" means the employee and his spouse, and
their parents, children, brothers and sisters.