Ethics Commission Fines Former Lawrence School Official Mark Rivera for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Repeatedly accessed a licensed database to view personal information
The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") approved a Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") in which Mark Rivera ("Rivera"), the former Lawrence School Department Urban Affairs Liaison and Special Assistant to the School Superintendent, admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by improperly using his position to repeatedly obtain unauthorized access to personal information that was not related to official school business. Pursuant to the Agreement, Rivera agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, the Lawrence School Department paid a $120 monthly fee to access LexisNexis, a database that contains both public and non-public information about individuals. The school department purchased access to the database to allow Rivera and one other school department employee to obtain contact information for parents no longer living in the district, and to contact parents and students regarding attendance issues. The Agreement states, "[f]rom 2007-2009, Rivera repeatedly misused his School Department authority to access the LexisNexis database through the School Department's account to conduct hundreds of searches of non-public information on individuals, including state and local elected officials, professional athletes and Hollywood celebrities, for his own private purposes …." Section 23(b)(2) prohibits a municipal 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, which are of substantial value, and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By using his official position to access the database and conduct hundreds of searches of non-public information on individuals, Rivera repeatedly violated section 23(b)(2).
"Databases and other information technology resources are for the conduct of official business, and may be accessed and used only for legitimate business purposes," stated Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober.