Former Dighton Highway Superintendent Paul DeMoura Pays Civil Penalty for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law
Recommended hiring one son to a full-time position; hired another son and the son's girlfriend to seasonal positions
The State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") in which former Dighton Highway Department ("DHD") Superintendent Paul DeMoura ("DeMoura") admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by his actions in connection with the hiring of one son to a full-time DHD position, and by hiring another son and the son's girlfriend to seasonal snowplow driver positions. Pursuant to the Agreement, DeMoura paid a $1,000 civil penalty for the violations.
According to the Agreement, in 2005, the Town of Dighton (the "Town") sought to hire two full-time laborer/drivers for the DHD. The Town advertised the vacancies, and two applicants responded, including DeMoura's son Derek. DeMoura interviewed both applicants and recommended that the Board of Selectmen hire both applicants. Derek was hired at a $47,000 annual salary. The Agreement states that the Board of Selectmen was aware at the time that Derek was DeMoura's son.
Also in 2005, DeMoura decided to hire an additional seasonal snowplow driver. He offered the position to his son, Christopher, but Christopher declined the offer. DeMoura then offered the position to Christopher's live-in girlfriend, Lynn Moody ("Moody"), who accepted the position. In or about February 2006, DeMoura became aware that Christopher substituted for Moody and drove the snowplow truck whenever Moody was contacted to work. DeMoura thereafter directly contacted Christopher to plow instead of contacting Moody. Moody was issued Town checks for snowplowing on about 16 occasions from February 2005 until March 2008. Moody used the proceeds from the checks to pay joint living expenses for her and Christopher. According to the Agreement, DeMoura said he had no knowledge that Christopher would be substituting for Moody at the time he hired Moody. In early 2008, DeMoura put Christopher officially on the payroll as a seasonal snowplow driver. Christopher was paid a total of $50 in that position, and was not rehired the following season.
Section 19 of c. 268A prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such an employee in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or an immediate family member has a financial interest. According to the Agreement, DeMoura violated section 19 by interviewing his son Derek and the other applicant, and recommending that the Board of Selectmen hire both to full-time laborer/driver positions. DeMoura also violated section 19 by deciding on a number of occasions to allow Christopher to fill in for Moody and perform the snowplow work himself, decisions in which Christopher had a financial interest. DeMoura also violated section 19 by hiring Christopher as a seasonal snowplow driver in 2008.
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. According to the Agreement, DeMoura violated section 23(b)(2) by using his DHD Highway Superintendent position to allow Moody to remain on the payroll while Christopher performed the work, to complete payroll records to pay Moody although she did not do the work, and to allow Christopher to do the work although he was not authorized to do the work.DeMoura Disposition Agreement