For Immediate Release - January 04, 2006

Carver Board of Health Agent Robert C. Tinkham, Jr. Fined $3,000

Tinkham Violated the Conflict of Interest Law By Inspecting His Parents' Campground Septic Systems

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission concluded public proceedings against Carver Board of Health (BOH) Agent Robert C. Tinkham, Jr. by approving a Disposition Agreement in which Tinkham admitted to violating the state's conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by overseeing testing of, inspecting and approving installation of new septic systems at a campground owned by his parents. Tinkham paid a civil penalty of $3,000.

According to the Disposition Agreement, in 2002, Pinewood Way Camping Area, a South Carver campground owned and operated by Tinkham's parents and as to which Tinkham serves as a corporate director, was required to upgrade its septic systems in accordance with Title 5 of the state environmental code. In November 2002, Tinkham as health agent witnessed five soil percolation tests for five new septic systems. In April 2003, Tinkham, acting on behalf of the BOH, inspected the installed systems and authorized their completion. In addition, Tinkham submitted five sewerage system inspection reports to the BOH and signed five certificates of compliance.

The BOH had instructed Tinkham in 1995 that any inspections he performed at the campground would be done with a BOH member present. A BOH member was not present during Tinkham's actions inspecting and approving installation of the septic systems.

Section 19 prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which to his knowledge he, his immediate family or a business in which he is serving as a director has a financial interest. By participating in these matters, Tinkham violated G.L. c. 268A, § 19.

"The conflict law is designed to promote confidence in the integrity of decisions made by public officials. This is particularly important where public health issues are involved," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "When a public official conducts septic inspections that affects his family's financial interest in violation of the law, such confidence is undercut and legitimate questions are raised whether actions may have been taken that jeopardize the public welfare."