Former Avon Assistant Assessor Marjorie Malone Cited for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Improperly raised property tax assessments on two town officials after being told she faced disciplinary action
The Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which former Town of Avon (the “Town”) Assistant Assessor Marjorie Malone (“Malone”) admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by improperly raising the assessments on property owned by two Town officials after she was informed that she was facing disciplinary action by the Town. Pursuant to the Agreement, Malone paid a $5,000 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, on the morning of August 4, 2010, Malone was informed that she faced disciplinary action in connection with a matter involving a personal expense report she had submitted. Later that day, without authorization, Malone increased the property valuations of two properties, each of which was separately owned by two Town officials. The effect of the changes increased the annual property taxes for each property by $1,452 and $835, respectively. Later that same day, the Town terminated Malone’s employment for the personal expense report matter. Town officials discovered the increased property assessments in December 2010, and restored the prior assessments. The affected Town officials had not yet paid the increased taxes by the time the improper assessments were discovered and corrected.
Section 23(b)(2)(ii) 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 secure for herself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly individuals. The Agreement states that Malone violated section 23(b)(2)(ii) by using her official position to retaliate against two officials from the town that was taking employment-related actions against her by improperly increasing their property assessments.
“The conflict of interest law prohibits municipal employees from using their official positions to secure benefits worth substantial value for themselves or others,” stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. “Public employees cannot use their official positions to retaliate against someone else for their own personal satisfaction.”
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