For Immediate Release - January 28, 2008

State Ethics Commission Fines Former Rockland Conservation Commissioner Kenneth Karlson

The Ethics Commission, in a Ruling and Order issued on January 16th, ordered former Rockland Conservation Commissioner Kenneth Karlson to pay a $2,000 civil penalty for violating the conflict of interest law by receiving $10,000 from a developer as compensation for excavation work Karlson performed on a project subject to an Order of Conditions issued by the Rockland Conservation Commission.

According to the Ruling and Order, the Commission entered a decision against Karlson because of his failure to defend or otherwise respond to the allegations of an Order to Show Cause filed on October 17, 2007, by the Commission's Enforcement Division. The Order to Show Cause alleged that Karlson, while serving as a Conservation Commissioner, violated § 17(a) of M.G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by receiving $10,000 from the developer of a skating rink and parking lot project as compensation for Karlson's performance in the spring of 2005 of excavation work on the project to satisfy the grading requirements of an Order of Conditions issued by the Conservation Commission in August 2004. Section 17(a) prohibits a municipal employee from receiving compensation from anyone other than the municipality in relation to any particular matter in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest.

The Commission has the authority to impose civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation. According to the Ruling and Order, the maximum statutory fine of $2,000 was warranted because Karlson's receipt of compensation in connection with a matter under the jurisdiction of his own board was a serious violation. The Commission ordered Karlson to pay the $2,000 civil penalty within thirty days of his receipt of the Ruling and Order.

In June 2007, the developer of the project, Paul Cokinos, signed a Disposition Agreement with the Commission in which he admitted violating M.G.L. c. 268A, § 17(b) of the state's conflict of interest law by paying Karlson to perform the excavation work. Cokinos paid a civil penalty of $2,000.