Ethics Commission's Enforcement Division Alleges Conflict of Interest Law Violations by Department of Industrial Accidents Administrative Judge Cheryl Jacques
The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission issued an Order to Show Cause (“OTSC”) alleging that state Department of Industrial Accidents (“DIA”) Administrative Judge Cheryl Jacques (“Jacques”) violated G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by invoking her position as a judge when she contacted a dental office on her brother-in-law’s behalf and demanded that the dental office write off the balance of the bill received by her brother-in-law.
According to the OTSC, Jacques’ brother-in-law received dental services from a dental office and received a bill for those services. Sometime in the fall of 2010, Jacques contacted the dental office on her brother-in-law’s behalf, and spoke to the office staff and the owner of the office. She identified herself as a judge to the office receptionist, and as Judge Jacques to the owner. She asserted that the dental office overcharged her brother-in-law for the services, and she demanded that the dental office write off the remaining balance of the bill, which was more than $1,000. Jacques claimed that the dental office had misled her brother-in-law because the dental office was not an in-network insurance provider under the brother-in-law’s insurance plan. When the dental office owner offered to write off a few hundred dollars of the bill, Jacques insisted that the owner write off the entire remaining balance. When the owner refused, Jacques threatened to contact the insurance company to have the dental office removed as a plan provider, and also to report the dental office to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office.
Section 23(b)(2)(ii) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a state employee from using or attempting to use her official position to secure for herself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions, which are of substantial value and which are not available to similarly situated individuals. According to the OTSC, Jacques violated section 23(b)(2)(ii) by identifying herself as a judge and referring to her position as a judge when speaking to the receptionist and owner of the dental office whom she contacted on her brother-in-law’s behalf to resolve a private billing dispute.
The Commission will schedule the matter for a public hearing within 90 days.
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