For Immediate Release - September 23, 2010

Department of Conservation and Recreation Chief Fire Warden David Celino Assessed a $500 Civil Penalty for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law

Intervened in firefighter hiring process while two of his friends were applicants for the position

The Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") in which state Department of Conservation and Recreation ("DCR") Chief Fire Warden David Celino ("Celino") admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, when he intervened in a hiring process to fill a DCR firefighter position while two of his friends were applicants for the position. Pursuant to the Agreement, Celino paid a $500 civil penalty.

According to the Agreement, Celino became aware in August 2008 that two of his friends had applied for a District 8 firefighter position. Celino informed the DCR District 8 Warden that he planned to stay out of the hiring process. After first and second round interviews were completed by a screening committee, without Celino's participation, the District 8 Warden recommended a candidate. Neither of Celino's friends was the recommended candidate. Celino learned of the recommendation, and questioned the District 8 Warden about why his friends did not receive second round interviews. Celino also reviewed the applicant interview packets and noted that a newly-enacted policy requiring that a human resources department staff person participate in the interview process was not followed. Celino brought this to the attention of his supervisor and the DCR Director of Administration and Finance. The DCR ultimately decided to repost the position, but the position was not filled due to budget constraints. Celino did not disclose to his appointing authority, the DCR Deputy Commissioner, that he was involved in the matter and that his two friends were applicants for the job.

Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a state employee from, knowingly, or with reason to know, 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 kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party or person. The section further provides that it shall be unreasonable to so conclude if such officer or employee has disclosed in writing to his appointing authority the facts which would otherwise lead to such a conclusion.

According to the Agreement, Celino violated section 23(b)(3) by participating in the hiring process for the District 8 firefighter position while two of his friends were applicants for the position without first filing a disclosure to dispel the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"Under the conflict law, public employees may not become involved in matters involving friends unless they first disclose the friendship in writing to their appointing authorities," stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober.


Disposition Agreement