For Immediate Release - February 11, 2009

Former Turnpike Authority Chairman Matthew Amorello Fined $2,000 for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law

The Ethics Commission issued a Decision and Order ("Decision") in the adjudicatory hearing involving former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority ("Turnpike Authority") Chairman Matthew Amorello ("Amorello"). The Commission determined that Amorello violated Section 6 of G. L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, when, according to the Decision, "[Amorello] participated in revising and approving the Turnpike Authority's sick leave buy-back policy when he knew that he had a financial interest in that policy." The Commission ordered Amorello to pay a $2,000 civil penalty, the maximum that can be imposed for a violation of the conflict of interest law.

Section 6 of G.L. c. 268A provides in relevant part that a state employee may not participate as such in any particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he has a financial interest. The Commission found that Amorello participated in decisions involving the sick leave buy-back policy when, on July 26, 2006, Amorello was told by Turnpike Authority Human Resources Director Norman Chalupka that Chalupka had changed the sick leave buy-back policy from a cash payment in an amount equal to 20% of the value of accrued and unused sick time for retirees, with nothing for non-retirees, to a cash payment in an amount equal to 100% of the value of accrued and unused sick time for anyone leaving the Turnpike Authority. According to the Decision, "Amorello reacted swiftly," and told Chalupka to review what other similar agencies had for policies and, "to make recommendations similar to those [agencies]." The Decision states, "[b]y his actions and his express directions to Chalupka, his subordinate, Amorello rejected the 100% buy-back policy at least as it applied to non-retirees. By virtue of his disapproval and rejection of the revised sick leave buy-back policy, he 'participated' for purposes of the conflict of interest law." The Decision further states that Amorello's comments on Chalupka's subsequent recommendation to change it from 100% to 50% constituted an approval of the revised sick leave buy-back policy which Chalupka then effected. The Decision noted that Amorello could have avoided violating the conflict of interest law if he had first made a written disclosure of all the facts surrounding his financial interest in the policy to his appointing authority, the Governor, and if the Governor had made a written determination allowing Amorello to participate in the policy change. Amorello did not file a written disclosure with the Governor.

"The Commission has determined that Mr. Amorello should not have discussed and approved changes to a policy that changed his employee benefits so close in time to when he could have availed himself of those benefits," stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "By doing so, Mr. Amorello participated in a matter in which he had a reasonably foreseeable financial interest. Such self-dealing is prohibited under the conflict of interest law."

Decision and Order