For Immediate Release - January 23, 2009

State Ethics Commission Dismisses Illegal Gratuity Allegations Against P.J. Riley & Co., Thomas Riley and Taylor Roth

Roth faces additional allegations that he violated the Conflict of Interest Law

The Ethics Commission issued a Decision and Order ("D&O") dismissing its cases alleging violations of the conflict of interest law by P.J. Riley & Co. ("Riley & Co.") and its executive vice president, Thomas Riley ("Riley"). The Commission, in its D&O, also dismissed one allegation regarding senior inspector for the state Board of Examiners of Plumbers and Gasfitters Taylor Roth ("Roth"), but is continuing to proceed on other allegations against Roth.

According to the D&O, on April 23, 2008, the Commission's Enforcement Division filed Orders to Show Cause ("OTSC") alleging that Riley & Co., Riley and Roth each violated section 3 of G.L. c. 268A, the state's conflict of interest law, in connection with Roth's alleged receipt of Boston Red Sox game tickets from Riley and Riley & Co. in 2004, 2005 and 2006, contemporaneous with Roth's issuance of permits for, and inspection of, gas and plumbing work performed by Riley & Co. Section 3 prohibits anyone from offering or giving, and any public employee from soliciting or receiving, anything of substantial value given for or because of an official act performed or to be performed.

Riley and Riley & Co. filed a joint motion for summary decision. They argued that there was no genuine issue in dispute as to any material fact and that there were no facts that demonstrate any linkage between their gift of Red Sox tickets to Roth in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and any official act which Roth took in the past or was to take in the future on any Riley & Co. project. Roth filed a separate motion for summary decision in which he denied that he received the tickets in 2004 and 2005, and he asserted that he turned over the unused tickets to his agency counsel in 2006. The Commission agreed that the facts presented in the case did not show the required linkage between the Red Sox tickets and any official act performed by Roth in connection with any inspections or permits issued to Riley & Co.

The OTSC filed against Roth also alleged that he violated §§ 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) of c. 268A. Section 23(b)(2) prohibits a public employee from using his position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions of substantial value which are not available to similarly situated individuals. Section 23(b)(3) prohibits a public employee from acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that any person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is likely to act or fail to act as a result of the undue influence of any party or person. The D&O states that there are genuine issues of material fact concerning Petitioner's allegations that Roth violated §§ 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) by receiving Red Sox tickets from Riley and Riley & Co. in 2004, 2005 and 2006. "Accordingly, we conclude that Roth is not entitled to summary decision in his favor as to these § 23 allegations."

"The Commission has ruled that the evidence indicates that any Red Sox tickets given by Riley & Co. and Riley to Roth were seasonal gifts intended to foster goodwill and were not given for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by Roth," stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "Therefore, because the requisite showing of a connection between the gift and an official act has not been made, the cases against P.J. Riley & Co. and Thomas Riley have been dismissed. The case against Taylor Roth will now proceed only as to the alleged § 23 violations."

Decision and Order