Commission Alleges Former Quincy College Board of Governors Chair Theresa Lord Piatelli Violated Conflict of Interest Law
According to the Order to Show Cause, the Board of Governors is the appointing authority for the College president. In spring 2003 Piatelli asked the College president to hire her brother for an entry level staff specialist position in the Enrollment Services Department at a salary of $32,000. The hiring manager and search committee did not choose Piatelli's brother for an interview because they determined he was not qualified. When the president intervened, the brother was interviewed. The committee did not select the brother to be hired; however, the president hired the brother on May 2, 2003. Two months after his hiring, Piatelli's brother was transferred from the College's main Quincy campus to the Plymouth campus. He wanted to return to the Quincy campus. Piatelli repeatedly asked the president and vice president to transfer him back. She also advocated that her brother be considered for a new position the president created at a pay increase of approximately $1,500. In April 2005, the president transferred the brother back to Quincy and into the new position.
Section 19 prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which to her knowledge, her immediate family has a financial interest. Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a public employee from using or attempting to use her position to secure for herself or others an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict law prohibits a public official from knowingly or with reason to know acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that anyone can improperly influence or unduly enjoy the public employee's favor in the performance of her official duties or that she would be likely to act or fail to act as a result of kinship. By asking her subordinates to hire her brother and transfer him into a higher paying position, Piatelli allegedly violated G.L. c. 268A, §§ 19, 23(b)(2) and (b)(3).
The Order to Show Cause also alleges that in 2001 Piatelli, who is an attorney, arranged with the College president to have community service work performed at the College by her cousin, whom she was representing in a criminal matter that, as part of a plea bargain, required 200 hours of community service. In 2002, Piatelli told the president to write a letter stating that her cousin had completed the community service work, even though she knew he had not yet done so. The president sent a letter to a court probation officer stating that the cousin had performed the hours of service.
Section 17(c) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from acting as an attorney for anyone other than the city in connection with a particular matter in which the city is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. By representing her cousin in arranging to have community service performed and by asking her subordinate to write a letter misrepresenting that her cousin had performed community service, Piatelli allegedly violated G.L. c. 268A, §§ 17(c), 23(b)(2) and (b)(3).