Commission Dismisses Allegations Against Taylor Roth
The Ethics Commission issued a Final Decision ("Decision") dismissing allegations that state Board of Examiners of Plumbers and Gasfitters Senior Inspector Taylor Roth ("Roth") violated the conflict of interest law. The Commission's determination was based on an evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses who testified in the case. This concludes all Commission adjudicatory proceedings involving allegations that contractor P.J. Riley & Co. ("Riley & Co.") and its executive vice president, Thomas Riley ("Riley"), provided, and Roth accepted, illegal gratuities of Red Sox tickets in connection with inspections Roth performed of Riley & Co. work.
The Commission's Enforcement Division initiated these proceedings on April 23, 2008, with the issuance of an Order to Show Cause alleging that Riley & Co., Riley and Roth violated section 3 (the gift section of the conflict of interest law), and that Roth additionally violated section 23 (the standards of conduct section). On January 23, 2009, the Commission issued a Decision and Order dismissing the section 3 illegal gratuity allegations against Riley & Co., Riley and Roth, deciding that there were no facts that demonstrated any linkage between the gift of Red Sox tickets to Roth and any official act which Roth took in the past or was to take in the future on any Riley & Co. project.
On February 4, 2009, an adjudicatory hearing was held on the remaining allegations that Roth violated section 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) of c. 268A in connection with his receipt of Red Sox tickets from Riley & Co. and Riley. 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.
According to the Decision, the evidence in the case consisted of the uncorroborated testimony of Thomas Riley and his assistant, Edward Kilnapp, that they provided Red Sox tickets to Roth in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Roth testified that he did not receive Red Sox tickets in 2004 and 2005, and that while re received tickets in 2006, he did not use them, but instead immediately turned them over to his agency's general counsel. The Decision states, "[w]e credit Roth's testimony on the basis of his demeanor, and the lack of documentary or other independent corroboration of Kilnapp's and Riley's testimony." The Commission further determined that, "[b]ased on our assessment of the credibility of the witnesses, we conclude that Petitioner has not proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Roth violated G.L. c. 268A, sections 23(b)(2)and 23(b)(3), as alleged. Accordingly, we conclude these proceedings by finding for Respondent." Decision and Order