Free inmate labor was used to install new roof on municipal architect\u2019s home\n\n\u00a0The State Ethics Commission has approved a Disposition Agreement in which Keith Mackenzie-Betty, a Town of Barnstable Department of Public Works building design architect, admits to violating the conflict of interest law by using his DPW position to obtain free inmate labor to install a new roof on his home.\u00a0 The agreement requires Mackenzie-Betty to pay an $8,000 civil penalty for the violation.\n\n\u00a0According to the agreement, the Barnstable County Sheriff\u2019s Office offers non-profit organizations and government entities free county jail inmate labor through its Community Service Work Crew program.\u00a0 The Town of Barnstable DPW occasionally uses Community Service inmate work crews to make improvements to Town-owned properties.\u00a0 In 2014, Mr. Mackenzie-Betty used his DPW email account to apply for a work crew to replace the roof shingles on a two-story house in Barnstable and for a work crew to replace the wall shingles on a Town-owned barn. \u00a0In applying, Mr. Mackenzie-Betty did not disclose that the two-story house was his private residence. \u00a0In addition, he identified \u201cMackenzie-Betty/Department of Children and Families\u201d as the \u201corganization\u201d requesting the work crew although he had not communicated with DCF, for which he occasionally provided emergency foster care, about the replacement of his roof.\u00a0 As an individual with a private project, Mr. Mackenzie-Betty was not eligible for a free inmate work crew. The replacement of his home\u2019s roof, which Mr. Mackenzie-Betty scheduled and managed using his town email account and cell phone, was completed by an inmate work crew over a six day period in October 2015, using roofing materials purchased by Mr. Mackenzie-Betty.\u00a0 The estimated value of the free inmate labor Mr. Mackenzie-Betty received was $4,204.\u00a0 The cost to the Sheriff\u2019s Office to supervise the inmate work crew was $1,680.\n\nThe conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from using their official positions to obtain unwarranted privileges worth $50 or more. \u00a0According to the agreement, because Mr. Mackenzie-Betty was an individual, and not a governmental entity or a nonprofit organization, he was ineligible for an inmate work crew and the nearly $6,000 worth of free inmate labor and supervision he obtained for his private roof project was an unwarranted privilege. \u201cBy sending his private roof project application to the Barnstable County Sheriff\u2019s Office along with a legitimate DPW application, and using his DPW assigned email and his DPW-issued phone to manage his private roof project, Mackenzie-Betty used his official position to secure this unwarranted privilege for himself,\u201d the agreement states. \u00a0Thus, by using his DPW architect position to obtain for his private roof project nearly $6,000 worth of free inmate labor and supervision for which he was not eligible, Mr. Mackenzie-Betty violated the conflict of interest law; for which violation he must pay a civil penalty of $8,000, according to the agreement. \n\nThe State Ethics Commission is charged with enforcing the conflict of interest law, General Laws chapter 268A, which, in Section 23(b)(2)(ii), prohibits the type of conduct engaged in by Mr. Mackenzie-Betty, the use of one\u2019 public position to secure unwarranted privileges worth $50 or more that are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.\u00a0 When the Commission\u2019s five members vote to find that there is reasonable cause to believe that a public employee has violated the law, it can also authorize adjudicatory proceedings against the employee.\u00a0 The public employee can then enter into a public disposition agreement rather than exercise his right to a hearing.\u00a0 \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\n\nThe Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission\u2019s Legal Division at 617-963-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.