Webster Planning Board Chairman Marc Becker Fined $4,000
For Endorsing "Approval Not Required" Plans for Properties he was Listing as a Real Estate Broker
According to the Disposition Agreement, in 2003, Becker listed property for sale at 82 Lakeside Avenue. In October 2003, he participated as a Planning Board member in endorsing an ANR plan dividing the property into two lots, which provided Becker with flexibility in marketing the property as either a single lot or two lots. When the property sold in August 2004, as a single lot, Becker received a $9,000 commission. In 2002, while he was the listing agent, Becker participated as a Planning Board member in endorsing an ANR plan dividing property located at Beach Street/Lakeside Avenue/Mohawk Avenue into five lots. When the property sold in October 2002, Becker received a $4,890 commission.
Section 19 prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which to his knowledge he has a financial interest. By participating in the approval of ANRs at the time he was a listing agent for the property and therefore had a financial interest in the matters, Becker violated G.L. c. 268A, § 19.
"A classic conflict of interest occurs when a public official participates in matters in which he stands to gain financially," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said a number of years ago, when a conflict arises, 'the wise course of action is to leave the room.'"