For Immediate Release - February 05, 2008

Commission Alleges Former Barnstable County Sheriff's Office Deputy Superintendent Richard Bonavita Violated the COI Law

The Ethics Commission's Enforcement Division, in an Order to Show Cause issued on January 31, 2008, alleges that former Barnstable County Sheriff's Office Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Operations Richard Bonavita repeatedly violated sections 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) of G.L. c. 268A, the state's conflict of interest law, by directing a Sheriff's Office mechanic to perform free automobile repairs for Bonavita and one of Bonavita's immediate family members. A public hearing will be scheduled within 90 days.

According to the Order to Show Cause, on several occasions beginning in February 2002, Bonavita directed an auto mechanic under his supervision to repair one of Bonavita's immediate family member's personal vehicles. The repairs included work on the vehicle's windshield motor, timing belt, and CV shaft. Bonavita directed the mechanic to perform some of the repairs at the Sheriff's Office, both during and after the mechanic's regular work hours, using Sheriff's Office facilities and equipment. Bonavita also directed the mechanic to perform repairs on a second vehicle owned by the family member after the mechanic's work hours at Bonavita's residence. On another occasion, Bonavita directed the mechanic to work on a third vehicle during his work hours at an automobile dealership prior to Bonavita's purchase of the vehicle.

Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a public employee from using or attempting to use his position to secure for himself or others an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. The Enforcement Division alleges that Bonavita violated section 23(b)(2) by securing free automobile repairs worth $50 or more for himself and his family member from a subordinate employee.

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 his official duties. The Enforcement Division alleges that Bonavita violated section 23(b)(3) by supervising the mechanic during and after the time that the mechanic performed free automobile repairs for Bonavita and his family member.