Everett School Superintendent Frederick Foresteire and Maintenance Manager Lona DeFeo Fined For Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Section 23(b)(2) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits municipal employees from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use their official positions to secure for themselves or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals. The Commission found that both Foresteire and DeFeo used their official positions in connection with plumbing work performed at, and plywood supplied for, Foresteire's home using School Department employees, time and resources.
In the DeFeo Decision, the Commission noted that DeFeo directed a School Department employee to perform plumbing work at Foresteire's home on School Department time. She also directed a School Department employee to pick up plywood from a vendor, deliver it to the high school, and cut it and stack it. She also "used her position to direct [another School Department employee] to deliver plywood to Foresteire's home using a School Department truck while on School Department time." As stated in the DeFeo Decision, she violated G.L. c. 268A, § 23(b)(2) when she knowingly used her position to give Foresteire unwarranted privileges of substantial value by having School Department employees use School Department time and School Department resources to do private work at his home.
In the Foresteire Decision, the Commission noted that the School Department employee who did the plumbing work saw Foresteire at his home while doing the work, and that Foresteire was sent payroll records which reflected that the employee had not used any vacation time to do that work. Foresteire paid the employee for doing the plumbing work, but unilaterally decided how much to pay him. The Decision states, "[w]here Foresteire is the Superintendent to whom DeFeo reports, and when he has the power to direct and supervise the entire school system, including the Maintenance Department employees, and when the matter involves private work at his home and for his benefit, we can reasonably infer that Foresteire directed DeFeo to arrange such work on his behalf. In the alternative, we can reasonably infer that even if Foresteire did not initially give the instruction to DeFeo, he subsequently knew or should have known that such work was being done on School Department time, using School Department resources and he did nothing to stop it."
"These cases involve an egregious misuse of public resources for private purposes," stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "The fact that Mr. Foresteire had been previously sanctioned by the Commission for similar conduct exacerbates the seriousness of his offense."Foresteire Decision and Order