- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for Former Templeton Director of Veterans Services John Caplis pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — The State Ethics Commission has issued a Final Order approving a Disposition Agreement in which former Templeton Director of Veterans Services John Caplis admits he violated the conflict of interest law by submitting a false claim for veterans benefits to the town to improperly reimburse his friend for a building permit fee. The Commission accepted Caplis’ payment of a $2,500 civil penalty and dismissed the adjudicatory proceeding against him.
In January 2017, Caplis unsuccessfully sought to have the Templeton Building Department waive a $484 building permit fee for his friend. In February 2017, in order to have his friend reimbursed for the $484 fee, Caplis, as Director of Veterans Services, submitted a false invoice to the town under the state Chapter 115 benefits program for veterans and their eligible dependents for $484 payable to an eligible recipient of veterans benefits, care of his friend. Caplis’ friend was not eligible for Chapter 115 benefits and the building permit fee was not lawfully reimbursable under Chapter 115. On the invoice, Caplis falsely identified the basis of the reimbursement as “medical and prescriptions.” The Templeton Board of Selectmen approved the payment and a $484 check was issued.
The conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from using their official positions to obtain valuable unwarranted benefits for themselves or others and from acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe they would unduly favor anyone in the performance of their official duties. The law also prohibits public employees from presenting false or fraudulent claims to their employer for valuable payments or benefits. Caplis violated each of these prohibitions when he, in his official capacity as Director of Veterans Services, submitted the false invoice to the town to get his friend a $484 reimbursement to which he was not entitled.
The State Ethics Commission is charged with enforcing the state conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. When at least three of the Commission’s five members vote to find reasonable cause to believe a public employee has violated the law, the Commission may authorize an adjudicatory proceeding against the employee. The Commission’s Enforcement Division initiated an adjudicatory proceeding against Caplis on September 10, 2021. When an adjudicatory proceeding is initiated, the public employee is afforded the opportunity to enter into a public disposition agreement rather than exercise their 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.