Ethics Commission Imposes $35,000 Civil Penalty on Former CBE Holdings, LLC Salesman John Dunnet for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Paid a state employee $142,500 to influence contract awards
The State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which former CBE Holdings, LLC (“CBE”) salesman John Dunnet (“Dunnet”) admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by providing illegal gratuities to the Director of Information Technology Operations (“IT Director”) for the Executive Office of Transportation (“EOT”), now the Department of Transportation. Pursuant to the Agreement, Dunnet will pay a $35,000 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, in 2006 and 2007, Dunnet met the IT Director for lunch about twice a month. On 32 occasions between October 2006 and December 2007, Dunnet wrote separate checks of approximately $4,500 from his personal checking account to the IT Director, who cashed the checks. In total, Dunnet gave $142,500 to the IT Director. During this time, Dunnet was seeking to have EOT award two contracts to CBE: a statewide telephony systems contract worth approximately $2 million; and a so-called “thin client project” contract worth approximately $384,000. The Agreement states that neither CBE nor EOT was aware of the payments from Dunnet to the IT Director. (The IT Director is now deceased.) The statewide telephony contract systems contract was never awarded by EOT, but CBE and a hardware vendor were awarded the thin client project contract.
Section 3(a) of the conflict of interest law prohibits anyone, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty, from directly or indirectly giving anything of substantial value to a state employee for or because of any official act performed or to be performed. The Agreement states that Dunnet violated section 3(a) each time he made a payment to the IT Director in an effort to obtain favorable treatment regarding the two EOT contracts CBE was seeking to be awarded.
“Paying a public employee in an attempt to influence a contract decision or any other official action is an egregious violation of the conflict of interest law," stated Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "The substantial civil penalty in this case reflects the seriousness of the violations."
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