For Immediate Release - May 21, 2008

Sandwich Planning Board Member Julie C. Molloy Fined $3,000 for Improperly Representing Clients Before the Sandwich Zoning Board of Appeals

Fine includes forfeiture of $1700 of attorney's fees

In a Decision and Order, the Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement in which Sandwich Planning Board ("Planning Board") member Julie C. Molloy agreed to forfeit attorney's fees of $1,700 and pay a penalty of $1,300 for violating the state's conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. In the Disposition Agreement, Molloy admitted that she had violated the conflict of interest law by appearing before the Sandwich Zoning Board of Appeals ("ZBA") on behalf of her private law clients to oppose a special permit application after she had participated in her capacity as a Planning Board member in formulating comments on the same special permit application. Those comments were submitted by the Planning Board to the ZBA for its consideration in connection with its review of the special permit application.

This Decision and Order concludes the public hearing in this matter. On December 5, 2007, the Commission's Enforcement Division initiated the public hearing process by issuing an Order to Show Cause alleging that Molloy had violated sections 17(a) and 17(c) of the conflict of interest law.

According to the Disposition Agreement and Decision and Order, at a June 2006 Planning Board meeting, Molloy spoke in her capacity as a Planning Board member in opposition to a special permit application for the installation of two wind turbines. A week later, William and Angela LeBeau, who owned property abutting the site of the proposed wind turbine project, retained Molloy to act as their attorney in opposing the turbine project and paid her a $2,500 retainer. On the same day that she was retained by the LeBeaus, Molloy appeared on their behalf before the ZBA and opposed the wind turbine permit. After the ZBA approved the special permit application, Molloy filed an appeal with the Barnstable Superior Court on behalf of the LeBeaus. Soon thereafter, Molloy refunded to the LeBeaus the $800 balance of their retainer and concluded her representation.

Section 17(a) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from receiving compensation from anyone other than the town in relation to a particular matter in which the town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Section 17(c) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from acting as an agent or attorney for anyone other than the town in connection with a particular matter in which the town is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. These sections apply less restrictively to municipal employees whose positions have been designated as "special municipal employee" positions for purposes of the conflict of interest law. Special municipal employees may represent clients before municipal boards other than their own unless they have officially participated in the matter, or unless the matter is or has been within the past year within their official responsibility. As a Planning Board member, a special municipal employee position, Molloy violated both of these sections of the conflict of interest law by representing the LeBeaus for compensation in opposition to the wind turbine special permit application, a matter in which Molloy had participated, and which was under her official responsibility, as a Planning Board member.

"One of the purposes of the conflict of interest law is to prevent a town official from having divided loyalties between the town she works for and a private interest, such as a law client," said Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "Although the rules are less restrictive for special municipal employees, a special municipal employee is prohibited from representing clients for compensation in connection with the same matter in which she participated in her official capacity, or which was under her official responsibility."