- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for Former Pepperell Selectman Roland Nutter Pays $6,000 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — Former Pepperell Selectman Roland Nutter has admitted to violating the conflict of interest law multiple times by voting against authorizing the investigation of a grievance involving his wife, the town Treasurer-Collector, and by participating in matters affecting her employment contract and salary. Nutter paid a $6,000 civil penalty pursuant to a Disposition Agreement approved by the State Ethics Commission on October 17 and waived his right to contest the Commission’s findings.
In 2016, before serving as Selectman, Nutter sought advice from the State Ethics Commission’s Legal Division about potential conflicts of interest regarding his wife’s position if he were to be elected to the Board of Selectmen. The Legal Division advised Nutter not to participate in matters involving his wife’s financial interests, such as the negotiation of her Treasurer- Collector employment contract, her performance evaluations, or disciplinary matters relating to her.
After Nutter’s election to the Board of Selectmen, the Town Administrator negotiated a new employment contract for Nutter’s wife in 2018 and presented it to the Board for approval. Although Nutter did not sign the contract, he publicly pressured and berated a fellow Selectman for not signing it. Two months later, the Town Administrator provided the Selectmen with a list of proposed appointments to town positions, including the three-year re-appointment of Nutter’s wife, whose contract as Treasurer-Collector was due to expire in five days. Nutter voted to approve the appointments. In addition, despite being asked by a colleague to recuse himself, Nutter participated in the Board of Selectmen’s discussion of a grievance alleging that the Town Administrator had allowed some employees, including Nutter’s wife, to file false timesheets, and voted against authorizing an independent investigation into the allegations.
The conflict of interest law generally prohibits municipal employees from participating in matters affecting the financial interests of themselves or their immediate family. Nutter violated this section of the law when he pressured his colleague to sign his wife’s contract, when he voted to approve his wife’s re-appointment as Treasurer-Collector, and when he discussed and voted against the investigation of the grievance that named his wife. Additionally, by pressuring his fellow Selectman to sign his wife’s contract, Nutter violated the law’s prohibition against public employees attempting to use their positions to obtain valuable unwarranted privileges for others.
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.