P.A. Landers, Inc. Fined $10,000 for Giving Illegal Gratuities to a MassHighway Inspector
Disposition Agreement Follows Enforcement Division Orders to Show Cause Filed April 8, 2008 Against the P.A. Landers, Inc. Employee and the MassHighway Inspector
According to the Disposition Agreement, P.A. Landers, Inc. ("P.A. Landers") had a construction contract with MassHighway to supply asphalt for work on Route 44 near Plymouth. MassHighway Construction Inspector Thomas Kennedy was responsible for inspecting P.A. Landers' work and for submitting the paperwork necessary to approve payments to P.A. Landers under the contract. Terry Edwards was the P.A. Landers project manager for the contract. In March 2002, Kennedy approached Edwards and asked for reimbursement for his vehicle gasoline expenses. Edwards agreed to provide the reimbursement so that Kennedy's inspections would "go a little smoother" on the project. From May 2002 until November 2002, Edwards made payments to Kennedy which averaged about $200 every other week, and ultimately totaled between $2,000 and $3,000. Edwards made these payments to Kennedy with P.A. Landers funds, which he obtained by submitting Kennedy's receipts, along with his own, to the company for reimbursement from the company's petty cash fund. Edwards' reimbursement requests to P.A. Landers did not identify Kennedy as the recipient of the funds and were made contrary to company policies regarding the distribution of funds.
Section 3(a) of G. L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, prohibits anyone, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty, from directly or indirectly giving anything of substantial value to any state employee for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by the state employee. "Substantial value" has been determined to mean anything with a value of $50 or more. Through its employee, P.A. Landers gave Kennedy between $2,000 and $3,000 in cash payments. Each payment was greater than $50, and so was of substantial value. These payments were not as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty. P.A. Landers gave these payments to Kennedy to induce him to not delay, and/or to reward him for not delaying, the processing of paperwork necessary for P.A. Landers to receive payment for its work on the project. Kennedy's timely processing of paperwork involved official acts performed or to be performed by Kennedy. Therefore, P.A. Landers violated section 3(a) by giving cash payments of substantial value to a state employee for or because of official acts performed or to be performed by the state employee. While P.A. Landers maintains that Edwards' payments to Kennedy were contrary to company policy and were accomplished only by Edwards circumventing established safeguards regarding the distribution of funds, the company acknowledges that as a business organization, it acts through, and is responsible for, the conduct of its employees, even if the conduct is unauthorized.