Ethics Commission Imposes a $25,000 Civil Penalty on Somerset Board of Water and Sewer Commission Member Charles Fisher for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Was privately compensated for performing work requiring Board of Water and Sewer Commission approval
The Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which Somerset Board of Water and Sewer Commission (“Board”) member Charles F. Fisher, II (“Fisher”) admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by being paid for performing private work in Somerset pursuant to permits issued by the Board. In accordance with the Agreement, Fisher paid a $25,000 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, between 2006 and 2011, Fisher, as a paid employee of Charles F. Fisher & Sons, Inc., performed at least 60 sewer tie-ins and/or repairs in Somerset, which required permits from the Board. Fisher was a Board member during this time. In 2001, Fisher had contacted the Commission’s Legal Division for advice about whether his company could perform this work in Somerset while he served on the Board. Fisher was told that the conflict of interest law prohibited him from doing so.
Section 17(a) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duties, directly or indirectly receiving compensation from anyone other than the municipality in relation to a particular matter in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. The Agreement states that Fisher violated section 17(a) each time he was privately compensated for sewer tie-in and/or repair work that required a permit from the Board.
"The conflict of interest law requires a municipal employee’s undivided loyalty to the municipality," stated Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "That loyalty is compromised when a municipal employee is paid privately for performing work that is also regulated by the municipality."
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