Palmer Public Schools Director of Food Services Susan Bailey Fined $2,000 for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law
Took for Her Personal Use Six iPods Received by the School Department
The State Ethics Commission approved a disposition agreement ("Agreement") in which Palmer Public Schools ("PPS") Director of Food Services Susan Bailey ("Bailey") admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law. Pursuant to the Agreement, Bailey paid a $2,000 civil penalty and made restitution to the PPS in the amount of $900, representing the value of the items she took for her personal use.
According to the Agreement, as Director of Food Services, Bailey had regular dealings with a vendor, Con-Agra Food, Inc. ("Con-Agra"). Con-Agra has sold packaged food to the PPS since 2003. Con-Agra offered promotions to its customers in which customers could receive gifts depending on the quantity of product purchased from Con-Agra. In November 2006 and April 2007, Bailey applied on behalf of the PPS for gifts in connection with the Con-Agra promotional program. Eligibility for the gifts was based on the type and quantity of food previously purchased by PPS from Con-Agra. In both cases, Bailey selected 3 iPods. When the iPods were received, they were the property of the PPS. Bailey, however, did not turn over the iPods to the PPS. Instead, she took them for her personal use. Each iPod had an approximate value of $150 each.
Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use her official position to obtain for herself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions of substantial value not available to similarly situation individuals. By using her official position to make purchases from a vendor, and then by keeping for her own personal use gifts received from the vendor based on those purchases, Bailey violated section 23(b)(2).
"Public employees may not use their position to obtain benefits for themselves in connection with performing their official duties," stated Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "In this case, the gifts received from the vendor belonged to the public agency, not the public employee."