For Immediate Release - August 24, 2010

Ethics Commission's Enforcement Division Alleges Conflict of Interest Law Violations by Lynn Board of Health Inspector Louis Picano

Held Second Municipal Position of Constable; Conducted Property Inspections Where He had Performed Constable Services

The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") issued an Order to Show Cause ("OTSC") alleging that City of Lynn (the "City") Board of Health ("BOH") Sanitary Inspector ("inspector") Louis Picano ("Picano") violated G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by also serving as a constable appointed by the City's Mayor, and for performing Inspector duties at properties owned by private parties for whom he had performed constable services, without disclosing these instances to his appointing authority.

According to the OTSC, between 2006 and 2009, Picano performed constable services for private property owners and managers, and charged over $50,000 in fees. In 1998, the Enforcement Division had advised Picano that the conflict of interest law prohibited a BOH Inspector from also serving as an appointed constable unless the constable duties were part of the Inspector's job, and as long as no additional compensation was received for performing the constable services. Picano was also advised about possible conflict of interest law issues if he were to conduct BOH inspections at properties owned by individuals for whom he had performed constable services. When contacted by the Enforcement Division following a 2006 complaint, Picano falsely stated that he only performed constable services as part of his Inspector duties.

Section 20 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from, directly or indirectly, having a financial interest in a contract made by same municipality. As a BOH Inspector, Picano was a municipal employee. Picano's constable appointment was a contract made by the City through the Mayor in which the municipality was an interested party. Picano had a financial interest in that contract each time he charged fees for performing constable services for private property owners and managers. Therefore, according to the OTSC, Picano violated section 20 each time he collected fees for performing constable services.

Section 23(b)(3) prohibits a municipal 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 OTSC, Picano performed BOH inspections at properties owned or managed by private parties for whom he had performed constable services, and he did not disclose these instances to his appointing authority. Therefore, Picano violated section 23(b)(3) on each occasion.

The OTSC states that, in connection with the above allegations, the "violations are exacerbated because [Picano] ignored the Enforcement Division's 1998 advice, and in 2006, falsely informed the Enforcement Division that he was not providing constable services for private parties, when he was, and then continued to do so."

The Commission will schedule a public hearing in this matter within 90 days.