For Immediate Release - April 04, 2007

Former Beverly Purchasing Director Christopher Bradley Fined $500

Former Purchasing Director Christopher Bradley Fined by State Ethics Commission for Improperly Arranging for former Beverly Mayor Thomas Crean to Purchase a City Laptop for $100

The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission concluded public proceedings against former Beverly Mayor Thomas Crean and former Purchasing Director Christopher Bradley by approving Disposition Agreements in which Crean and Bradley each admitted to violating the state's conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by arranging for Crean's laptop computer to be declared surplus, then selling it to Crean for $100 days before he left office. Crean paid a civil penalty of $1,000 and reimbursed the City of Beverly $500 for the computer; Bradley paid a civil penalty of $500.

According to the Disposition Agreements, in 2002 when Crean took office, the city paid $1,785 to purchase a Compaq Presario laptop computer for his use. In fall 2003, Crean decided he wanted to buy his laptop from the city when he left office. Both Bradley and the city solicitor told Crean that he would have to follow legal procedures for disposing of items no longer of use to the city. Crean did not follow the proper procedure when he directed Bradley to treat the laptop as surplus. Bradley proceeded to treat the laptop as surplus and put it up for auction. Crean's bid of $100 was the only bid. Crean paid for and took possession of the laptop shortly before he left office in early January 2004.

Section 19 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which to his knowledge he has a financial interest. By directing his subordinate, Bradley, to declare the laptop surplus and by guiding the procedure for doing so, Crean violated § 19. Section 20 prohibits a municipal employee from having a financial interest in a contract made by the municipality. By bidding on and purchasing the laptop from the city, Crean violated § 20.

Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict law prohibits a public official from 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 official's favor in the performance of his official duties. From Bradley's failure to require Crean to comply with the usual procedures for disposal of surplus property, it appeared that Crean could improperly influence Bradley or unduly enjoy Bradley's favor in the performance of his official duties. Thus, Bradley violated § 23(b)(3). Bradley could have avoided violating §23(b)(3) by making an advance written disclosure to dispel the appearance of impropriety. He did not make such a disclosure.

"This is a classic case of public officials pursuing private interests instead of government interests," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "Public officials are required to avoid acting in their own self-interest even when they are exiting from public service."