For Immediate Release - December 02, 2009

Ethics Commission Fines Former Phillipston and Templeton Board of Health Agent Valorie Daigle for Conflict of Interest Law Violations

Cited for drafting and stamping plans and receiving compensation in connection with plans presented to her boards

The Ethics Commission announced that it has approved a Disposition Agreement (the "Agreement") with Valorie Daigle ("Daigle"), a former Board of Health ("BOH")Agent in the Towns of Phillipston and Templeton, to resolve allegations that Daigle violated G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law. Daigle admitted to violating the law and agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty.

According to the Agreement, Daigle served as the BOH Agent in both municipalities during 2006 and 2007. She is a registered sanitarian and was also employed part-time by Northland Engineers, Inc. ("Northland"), a company she sold to her daughter in 2000. Northland provides soil testing and septic system design services to property owners. During 2006 and 2007, Daigle was a part-time employee and treasurer of Northland and was paid $372 every two weeks for duties which included drafting and affixing her registered sanitarian stamp on septic system design plans.

The Agreement states that, during 2006 and 2007, Daigle acted as the Phillipston BOH Agent witnessing on-site soil tests on nine properties in the town, for which she then drafted the septic system design plans as a Northland employee. Also in her capacity as a Northland employee, Daigle drafted and affixed her stamp to a septic system design plan for a tenth property in Phillipston. The ten septic system design plans were submitted to the Phillipston BOH for approval.

Section 17(a) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from receiving compensation from anyone other than the municipality in connection with any matters in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Section 17(c) of the law prohibits a municipal employee from acting as an agent or attorney for anyone other than the municipality in connection with any matters in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. By receiving compensation from Northland for drafting ten septic system design plans submitted to the Town of Phillipston for approval, Daigle violated section 17(a) on each occasion. By affixing her registered sanitarian stamp on one of those plans, Daigle also violated section 17(c).

In February 2007, Daigle, as the Templeton BOH Agent, witnessed on-site soil tests for two properties, and then, as a Northland employee, drafted and affixed her stamp to the septic system design plans for those properties. The plans were submitted to the Templeton BOH for approval. Although the Templeton BOH Agent position was designated as a "special municipal employee" position, Daigle could not avail herself of the "special municipal employee" exemption. Special municipal employees can receive compensation from, and can act as an agent or attorney for, anyone other than the municipality in connection with matters in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, as long as the municipal employee does not participate in the matter and/or the matter is not pending in the employee's department or agency. Since Daigle witnessed the on-site soil tests as BOH Agent for the two properties in Templeton, she violated sections 17(a) and 17(c) when she then drafted and stamped the septic system design plans that were submitted to the Templeton BOH for approval.

"The conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from having divided loyalties between the public agency they serve and their private business interests," said Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "Ms. Daigle violated the conflict law by drafting and affixing her stamp to septic system design plans that had to be approved by her own boards."

Disposition Agreement