For Immediate Release - February 28, 2006

Fines Former Chicopee Assistant Treasurer Therese A. Hamel Fined $5,000

For using Treasurer's Office as Private Bank for Family and Friends

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission fined former Chicopee Assistant Treasurer Therese A. Hamel $5,000 for violating the state's conflict of interest law, M.G.L. c. 268A, by repeatedly allowing herself, family, friends and co-workers to cash checks at the Treasurer's Office without her office immediately depositing them and to take cash from the Treasurer's Office, leaving IOU's.

According to the Disposition Agreement, Hamel allowed friends and family to cash personal checks then held the checks for significant periods of time without depositing them for payment. She also allowed herself, friends, co-workers and family to take cash of up to $1,000. After the State Police investigated Hamel's conduct, she repaid the City $4,400 for monies she and others had borrowed in January 2005. In March 2005, an independent auditor's report criticized the actions but found no cash shortages. Hamel resigned under pressure in March 2005 and, in April 2005, repaid the City $110 in interest on the $4,400 that had been improperly borrowed.

Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a public employee from using or attempting to use his position to secure for himself or others an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By using the Treasurer's Office as a private bank for herself, family, friends, and co-workers, Hamel obtained for herself and others the unwarranted privilege of personal banking services.

"Public resources are for public use, not for personal use," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "In particular, public officials may not use the public till as an interest-free personal bank."