McGovern gave preferential treatment to an Agawam Police Officer suspected of driving while intoxicated; ordered to pay a $7,500 civil penalty\n\nThe State Ethics Commission (\u201cCommission\u201d) issued a Decision and Order (\u201cDecision\u201d) concluding the adjudicatory proceeding involving Agawam Police Department (\u201cAPD\u201d) Lieutenant Edward McGovern by finding that McGovern violated G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by giving preferential treatment to a fellow Agawam police officer suspected of driving her personal vehicle the wrong way on a state highway in Agawam while intoxicated.\u00a0 Pursuant to the Decision, the Commission ordered McGovern to pay a $7,500 civil penalty.\u00a0 The adjudicatory proceeding was initiated by the Commission\u2019s Enforcement Division filing an Order to Show Cause in July 2014.\n\nAccording to the Decision, at approximately 9:15 pm on Friday, June 29, 2012, the West Springfield Police Department (\u201cWSPD\u201d) received an anonymous call reporting a wrong-way driver on Route 5 North.\u00a0 McGovern heard the report over his police-issued portable radio.\u00a0 A WSPD Patrolman and two APD Patrolmen were dispatched to the area to locate the vehicle.\u00a0 Minutes later the WSPD officer located a sport utility vehicle (\u201cSUV\u201d) on Route 5 North in Agawam near the Agawam/West Springfield town line.\u00a0 The SUV was stopped facing the wrong direction in the middle of the left travel lane, next to the guardrail separating the divided highway.\u00a0 The responding officers observed APD Officer Danielle Petrangelo sitting on the guardrail next to the passenger side of the SUV.\u00a0 The SUV was still running.\u00a0 The APD officers observed damage on the passenger side of the SUV consistent with striking a guardrail.\u00a0 At the time of the incident, Petrangelo was on administrative leave from the APD pending an internal affairs investigation. \u00a0The responding APD officers contacted their supervisor, Sergeant Anthony Grasso.\u00a0 Grasso then called McGovern and told him that Petrangelo was involved in the incident, and that the APD officers at the scene needed assistance from a supervisor.\u00a0 McGovern agreed to go to the scene. \u00a0The APD officers believed Petrangelo was intoxicated. \u00a0For safety reasons, the officers moved the police vehicles from the highway travel lane to the breakdown lane, and they moved the SUV onto an access road directly off Route 5.\u00a0 McGovern arrived at the scene shortly after the vehicles were moved.\u00a0 As the highest ranking officer present, McGovern became the officer-in-charge when he arrived.\u00a0 When McGovern arrived at the scene, he observed that Petrangelo was incoherent, intoxicated, and drunk.\u00a0 He also observed that the police officers, Petrangelo, the police cruisers and the SUV were the only individuals and vehicles present at the scene.\u00a0 McGovern then spoke to the responding officers and asked them whether there were any charges pending against Petrangelo in West Springfield and whether there were any witnesses to the incident.\u00a0 The officers told McGovern that there were not any pending charges or witnesses.\u00a0 McGovern then asked the responding officers whether they had any evidence that Petrangelo had been operating the SUV.\u00a0 The officers all told McGovern that they did not.\u00a0 McGovern did not ask where the SUV was located when the officers arrived at the scene, or whether Petrangelo made any statements or admissions.\u00a0 The officers did not provide McGovern with additional information about the incident, and McGovern did not inquire further.\u00a0 McGovern then decided not to arrest Petrangelo or issue a citation to her.\u00a0 Instead, he ordered one APD officer to drive the SUV to the APD Station, and another APD officer to drive Petrangelo to her residence.\u00a0\n\nSection 23(b)(2)(ii) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a public employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and not properly available to similarly situated individuals.\u00a0 According to the Decision, McGovern was the officer-in-charge at the scene, and as such, he was responsible for determining what occurred at the scene. \u00a0Although the subordinate officers were not forthcoming with their observations, McGovern failed to conduct any meaningful investigation, and he chose to ignore all other evidence indicating that Petrangelo had operated the SUV on a public way.\u00a0 By failing to conduct a meaningful investigation, and by failing to arrest Petrangelo or issue a citation to her despite having sufficient evidence that she operated the vehicle, McGovern used his APD position to provide Petrangelo with preferential treatment, which amounted to an unwarranted benefit or privilege.\u00a0\n\nMcGovern has 30 days within which to pay the civil penalty or file an appeal in the Superior Court.