For Immediate Release - April 28, 2005

Kingston Selectman Richard Kenney Pays $500 for Asking Police Chief to Fix Ticket

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission issued a Decision and Order finding that Kingston Selectman Richard Kenney violated § 23(b)(3) of the state's conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by asking the Chief of Police to change a ticket for a Kingston resident who Kenney knew and who was then a Town board member. Kenney was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $500.

According to the Decision and Order, on May 7, 2001, a Kingston resident, who was at the time a member of the Silver Lake Regional School Committee, was stopped for not having a valid inspection sticker. He was not cited for the sticker infraction, but instead was given a $25 ticket for not wearing his seat belt. At the May 7, 2001 Town Meeting, Kenney told the Chief about the ticket and asked the Chief to change the ticket to a warning. The Chief told Kenney to have the resident call him the next day. The next morning, the resident contacted the Chief. He told the Chief that he had not asked Kenney to intervene on his behalf. The Chief explained the process for contesting the ticket; he did not change the ticket.

At the continuation of the Town Meeting on May 8, 2001, Kenny chastised the Chief for having the resident call him if he was not going to do anything about the ticket. The Chief testified at the evidentiary hearing held on December 1, 2004 that he could not change the ticket to a warning because to do so would be "fixing a ticket" which is against the law.

Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict law prohibits a public official from acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that anyone can improperly influence or unduly enjoy the public official's favor in the performance of his official duties. By asking the Chief to change a ticket to a warning for a fellow Town official that he knew and that he served with on several Town committees, Kenney violated § 23(b)(3).

Kenney has 30 days to appeal the Commission's decision to Superior Court.

"Ticket fixing undermines public confidence in government, even when the amount at stake is small," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "The conflict of interest law was created to ensure that all of us may be confident that our treatment by government will be based on a case's merits and not on who we are or who we know."