Former Monson Selectman James Manning Fined $2,000 and Former Police Chief Joseph Rebello Fined $1,000
Public officials who are concerned for their safety, like any citizen, are entitled to police protection but not to weapons supplied by the police. The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission issued two Disposition Agreements in which former Monson selectman James Manning and former Monson police chief Joseph Rebello each admitted violating the state's conflict of interest law and agreed to pay fines of $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.
According to the Disposition Agreements, in 2001 Manning asked Rebello to issue him a $415 police pistol because Manning felt threatened by a suspended police sergeant. Rather than require Manning to buy his own gun, Rebello gave Manning the police pistol after Manning, who already had a gun permit, completed a firearm training course, as required by Rebello. Manning had the pistol for six months before turning it in when he left for military duty. When Manning returned from military duty, he again sought a police pistol but his request was denied after the new police chief brought his request to the other selectmen.
Manning felt he was entitled to a police pistol because he was a police commissioner, even though he had no enforcement responsibilities requiring him to carry a pistol. According to the Agreement, "There is nothing in the Monson town ordinances or the Massachusetts General Laws that authorizes a police commissioner to be issued a police department pistol."
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 another an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By using his position to receive a police pistol to which he was not entitled, Manning violated § 23(b)(2); by giving him the pistol, Rebello also violated this section of the law.
"Police pistols should be issued only for police purposes and government officials may not use their positions of power to arm themselves or others," said Executive Director Peter Sturges.