For Immediate Release - December 14, 2006

Webster Planning Board Chairman Marc Becker Fined $4,000

For Endorsing "Approval Not Required" Plans for Properties he was Listing as a Real EstateBroker

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement in which Webster Planning Board Chairman Marc Becker admitted violating the state's conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by endorsing "Approval Not Required" plans (ANRs) for two properties for which he served as the listing real estate broker. Becker paid a civil penalty of $4,000.

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.'"