Date: November 8, 1984
This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and John J. Willis, Sr. (Mr. Willis) pursuant to section 11 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes an assented to final Commission order enforceable in Superior Court pursuant to General Laws chapter 268B, s.4(d).
On July 17, 1984, the Commission initiated a preliminary inquiry pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(d), into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G. L. c. 268A, involving Mr. Willis, former North Andover town counsel. The Commission concluded that preliminary inquiry and, on August 14, 1984, found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Willis had violated c. 268A.
The parties now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Mr. Willis was North Andover town counsel from 1978 until he resigned, effective on June 30,1984.
2. Mr. Willis is an insurance agent and has operated the Handsel Insurance Agency in North Andover since 1956.
3. Since 1959, Mr. Willis has been a member of the North Andover Agents Association (Association). The Association is made up of insurance agents who reside in North Andover and was formed to advise the town on its insurance and to provide the recommended coverage. The commissions generated from these policies are distributed among all the members of the Association whether or not an individual actually wrote any policies for the town. Any agent who does place a town policy retains one-third of the commission earned and contributes the remainder for distribution among the Association members.
4. Mr. Willis has received $1500-$2000 annually as his share of the Association's distributions. In January. 1984, he received approximately $2000 for town insurance policies in effect in 1983.
5. Mr. Willis has no role in town actions or decisions regarding insurance as town counsel. He has not written any town insurance policies at any time during his tenure as town counsel.
6. Section 20 of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee from having a direct or indirect financial interest in a contract made by the town in which he is employed. The funds distributed to members of the Association resulted from commissions paid in connection with the town's insurance policies. Those insurance policies are contracts within the meaning of that term in s.20. Therefore, by sharing in the Association's distribution of funds resulting from town insurance contracts, Mr. Willis had an indirect financial interest in those contracts in violation of s.20.
Based on the foregoing facts, 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 agreed to by Mr. Willis:
1. that he pay to the Commission the sum of two thousand dollars ($2000.00) as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.20, the amount of the penalty reflecting the amount received by Mr. Willis from the Association in January. 1984; and
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 proceeding in which the Commission is a party.
DATE ISSUED: November 8, 1984