|Organization:||State Ethics Commission|
Decision In the Matter of John Pigaga
This disposition agreement ("agreement") is entered into between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and John Pigaga ("Mr. Pigaga") pursuant to section 11 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This agreement constitutes a consented to final order of the Commission enforceable in superior court under G.L. c. 268B, s.4(d).
On December 28, 1983, the Commission initiated a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of G.L. c. 268A, s.6 by Mr. Pigaga, chairman of the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board. The Commission concluded that preliminary inquiry and, on January 30, 1984, found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Pigaga had violated chapter 268A.
The parties now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. Mr. Pigaga was appointed chairman of the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board ("Board") in April 1982 and, as such, was a state employee, as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(q).
2. The board, established by statute in 1981, is empowered to license individuals to appraise damage to motor vehicles arising from motor vehicle damage claims. A license may be issued only after an applicant
successfully completes an exam prepared and administered by the Board. No appraiser may complete an auto damage report unless he is duly licensed.
3. At a meeting in November 1982, the Board, including Mr. Pigaga, discussed the questions compiled by one of the Board members to be used for the Board's first licensing exam, During this meeting, the Board decided on acceptable answers for each of the questions and recorded the answers on an answer key. Mr. Pigaga took custody of the answer key after this meeting.
4. On November 30, 1982, the Board administered its first licensing exam to approximately 180 applicants. Each applicant was checked in at the exam site by three of the Board members who were serving as proctors and paid a $50 application fee before taking the exam. After the test, the exam papers were divided up to be graded by the three Board members who had served as proctors. (Mr. Pigaga was not one of these three.)
5. At some point around the time of the November 30, 1982 exam, Mr. Pigaga took the licensing exam himself. He did not take it when it was administered on November 30,1982. Mr. Pigaga also graded his own exam. He passed.
6. In December 1982, Mr. Pigaga added his name to the list of license applicants who had taken the November 30, 1982 exam. On or about December 12, 1982, he paid and recorded the receipt of the $50 license fee. He also put his exam in with the test papers of the applicants who had taken the exam at the officially-scheduled time. He then issued himself an auto damage appraiser's license, along with the other applicants who had passed the November 30, 1982 exam.
7. Section 6 of chapter 268A prohibits a state employee from participating as such in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he has a financial interest.
8. By all the actions he took in connection with his own licensing, Mr. Pigaga participated in his official capacity in a particular matter in which he had a financial interest. Most particularly, he performed the critical step in the process of obtaining a license for himself: he took the exam, graded it himself, put it back in the group of exams completed by applicants who had taken the exam when it was administered on November 30,1982, and then issued himself a license. His right to a license, conditioned by statute on his passing an exam, was questionable, at best, where he knew (and indeed had helped formulate) the correct answers beforehand. None of the other Board members knew that Mr. Pigaga had taken the November 30,1982 exam for the purpose of obtaining a license. If he had disclosed his actions and his purpose, he would not have obtained the license. By his participation in his own licensing process, then, Mr. Pigaga violated s.6.
Based on the foregoing, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further Commission enforcement proceedings on the basis of the following terms, to which Mr. Pigaga has agreed:
(a) that he pay to the Commission the sum of $2,000 for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.6, by participating in the process by which he obtained an appraiser's license taking the exam, grading it himself and issuing himself the license; and
(b) that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms contained in this agreement in this or any other related administrative or judicial proceeding in which the Commission is a party.