Marion Conservation Commission Member Sherman E. Briggs Jr. Pays $7,500 Civil Penalty for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Performed excavation work for Tabor Academy after voting to approve the work as a Conservation Commission member
The Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which Marion Conservation Commission (“ConCom”) member Sherman E. Briggs Jr. (“Briggs”) admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by voting as a ConCom member to issue an Order of Conditions authorizing Tabor Academy to install salt water tanks. Tabor Academy then hired Briggs’ business to perform the excavation work. Pursuant to the Agreement, Briggs paid a $7,500 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, Briggs owns Sherman E. Briggs Excavating (“Briggs Excavating”), a business which has performed excavating work for Tabor Academy, a private school in Marion, for more than 20 years. Sometime prior to June 3, 2011, Briggs met with Tabor Academy officials to discuss a project to install two saltwater tanks at Tabor Academy’s Marine Science Center. Briggs was consulted about how and where to locate the concrete footings to support the tanks. On June 3, 2011, Tabor Academy filed a Notice of Intent with the ConCom regarding the project. At the ConCom’s June 22, 2011 hearing on the Notice of Intent, Briggs, in his capacity as a ConCom member, discussed the Notice of Intent and voted to issue an Order of Conditions regarding the Notice of Intent. On June 27, 2011, the ConCom issued the Order of Conditions, which allowed the work to install the tanks to proceed. Sometime after June 22, 2011, but before July 6, 2011, Tabor Academy hired Briggs Excavating to perform the excavation work for the project. Briggs performed and completed the work in July 2011, and was paid $8,030 by Tabor Academy.
Section 19 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such an employee in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he has a financial interest. The Agreement states that Briggs violated section 19 by, as a ConCom member, discussing Tabor Academy’s Notice of Intent and voting to approve the Order of Conditions, which allowed the project to proceed. Briggs had a reasonably foreseeable financial interest in the decision to issue the Order of Conditions since his business had a long history of performing excavating work for Tabor Academy, and Briggs had recently met with Tabor Academy officials to advise them on how and where to install the concrete footings for the tanks.
Section 17(a) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from 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 Briggs violated section 17(a) by receiving $8,030 from Tabor Academy as payment for performing excavation work, which was in relation to the Order of Conditions issued by the ConCom, a particular matter in which the Town of Marion, through the ConCom, was a party to and/or had a direct and substantial interest.