- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for Division of Professional Licensure Prosecutor Fayette Mong Pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — Division of Professional Licensure Prosecutor Fayette Mong has admitted to violating the conflict of interest law by repeatedly invoking her state position when seeking town inspections of a Braintree house she sought to purchase. Mong paid a $2,500 civil penalty pursuant to a Disposition Agreement approved by the State Ethics Commission on October 17 and waived her right to contest the Commission’s findings.
In July 2017, after Mong’s offer to purchase the Braintree house was accepted, her private home inspector identified electrical and plumbing issues and recommended additional electrical and plumbing inspections. Mong suspected the house had undergone work without proper permits. While Mong and the seller were negotiating a purchase and sale agreement, Mong contacted three Town of Braintree inspectors to request an inspection of the home.
In communicating with the Braintree inspectors, Mong repeatedly referred to her position as a prosecutor with the Division of Professional Licensure – which investigates and prosecutes complaints regarding licensed plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, and other tradespeople – even though the private home sale was unrelated to her state job. The inspectors agreed to do the inspections, however, on the day they were to inspect the house, the homeowner refused to let them enter. Mong then withdrew from her planned purchase of the house.
By repeatedly invoking her position as a Division of Professional Licensure prosecutor when requesting town inspections of the house, Mong created the risk that the inspectors would be unduly influenced by her status as a Division of Professional Licensure prosecutor. In addition, had the inspections identified code violations, Mong would have gained significant leverage in her negotiations with the seller. No prospective homebuyer may lawfully invoke their public position in order to improve their bargaining position in their private purchase of a house. Accordingly, Mong’s conduct violated the conflict of interest law, which prohibits public employees from using their official positions to obtain valuable benefits that are not properly available to them.
The State Ethics Commission is charged with civilly enforcing the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. When three or more of the Commission’s five members vote to find reasonable cause to believe a public employee has violated the law, they can authorize adjudicatory proceedings to determine whether the violation occurred. The public employee then has the opportunity to enter into a public Disposition Agreement rather than exercising his or her right to a hearing.
The Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission’s Legal Division at 617-371-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.