Dover Municipal Well Inspector Josef Fryer Fined $2,000
For Conducting Well Inspections for his Company's Customers
Dover Municipal Well Inspector Josef Fryer paid a $2,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that he violated the state's conflict of interest law by inspecting wells of Dover Water Company customers. Fryer is a one-third owner, with his siblings, of Dover Water Company, a private family business that supplies water services.
According to a Disposition Agreement, Fryer conducted well inspections for an average of two Dover Water Company customers a year who had applied to the Dover Board of Health for permits to dig their own wells. If successful, the applicants would receive water from their own wells and would no longer do business with Dover Water Company.
Fryer reviewed well applications, met with the driller to make sure that the actual well placement matched the placement on the application and approved the well if it passed a test for water volume and quality.
Section 19 prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which he or his immediate family has a financial interest. By participating in well inspections that could result in Dover Water Company losing customers, Fryer participated in matters affecting his family business in violation of § 19.
"This case is a classic example of a conflict between one's public duty and one's private interests," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "When a public employee's actions may have an impact on his family business, his first instinct should be to stop and seek advice to ensure that his actions will not violate the law nor undermine the public's confidence in those actions."