Former Plymouth County Sheriff's Department Employee Daniel Rowan Fined $1,500 For Violating the Conflict of Interest Law
Disposition Agreement Resolves the Adjudicatory Proceeding
In a Final Order, the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") concluded the adjudicatory proceedings involving former Plymouth County Sheriff's Department ("PCSD") Fleet Supervisor Daniel Rowan ("Rowan") by approving a Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") in which Rowan admits to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, and by dismissing the adjudicatory proceedings. Pursuant to the Agreement, Rowan has paid a $1,500 civil penalty.
The adjudicatory proceedings were initiated by the Commission's Enforcement Division by the filing of an Order to Show Cause on January 7, 2010. In the Agreement, Rowan admits that he violated sections 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) of the conflict law by acquiring a used 1999 Ford Crown Victoria from Municipal Headquarters, Inc. "(MHQ"), a vendor that supplied vehicles and vehicle equipment to the PCSD, and with whom Rowan had official business dealings, and by failing to disclose to his PCSD appointing authority his private business relationship with PCSD.
According to the Agreement, Rowan, as PCSD Fleet Supervisor, purchased vehicle equipment from MHQ, and, consequently, had a regulatory relationship with MHQ. While this regulatory relationship existed, Rowan initiated his private purchase of a Crown Victoria from MHQ. According to the Agreement, it cannot be established whether the sale by MHQ was entirely voluntary. Rowan did not disclose his private dealings with MHQ to his PCSD appointing authority. After taking possession of the Crown Victoria, Rowan continued to have official dealings with MHQ in connection with equipment purchases.
Section 23(b)(2) prohibits a public employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. Section 23(b)(3) prohibits a public employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, knowing all of the relevant facts, 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 kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party of person.
The Disposition Agreement states that "… a public employee who has a business relationship with a vendor within his regulatory jurisdiction violates § 23(b)(2) unless (1) the business relationship is entirely voluntary; (2) it was initiated by the vendor; and (3) the employee's public written disclosure under § 23(b)(3) states facts clearly showing elements (1) and (2)." By obtaining the Crown Victoria under the circumstances described in the Agreement, Rowan used his official position to obtain an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not otherwise available to similarly situated individuals in violation of section 23(b)(2), according to the Agreement. By having official dealings with MHQ after he took possession of the vehicle, and failing to disclose to the PCSD that he acquired the vehicle from MHQ, Rowan acted in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, knowing all of the relevant circumstances to conclude that MHQ might improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties in violation of section 23(b)(3), according to the Agreement.
"Public employees may not solicit private commercial relationships with vendors with whom they have official dealings. If such a relationship results from a vendor voluntarily soliciting the public employee, the employee must disclose in writing the private commercial relationship and the facts establishing that it is voluntary and initiated by the vendor to his or her appointing authority," stated Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "While the conflict of interest law does not prohibit such relationships, care must be exercised to make certain that the public employee is not exploiting his official position to extract personal benefits from those under his regulatory authority or supervision."