- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for Hingham Housing Authority Director Sharon Napier Pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Conflict of Interest Law Violations
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Napier approved Housing Authority payments to her friend and former business partner and contracted with her own agency
Boston, MA — Hingham Housing Authority Executive Director Sharon Napier has paid a $2,500 civil penalty after admitting to violating two sections of the conflict of interest law by having a financial interest in a Housing Authority contract and by approving and co-signing Housing Authority payments to a friend’s company, which she co-founded.
The State Ethics Commission on May 17 approved a disposition agreement in which Napier admitted to the violations, waived her right to contest the Commission’s findings, and agreed to pay the civil penalty.
According to the agreement, Napier and her friend, Patrick Rossetti, organized a company in March 2006 to conduct inspections of Section 8 housing and other properties. The company, Housing Inspection Services, LLC, entered into a contract that November to conduct inspections of Hingham Housing Authority units. Rossetti signed the contract as the company’s vice president and personally conducted the inspections. Napier’s tax records showed no income from Housing Inspection Services, LLC, after 2007, and the Secretary of the Commonwealth involuntarily dissolved the LLC in 2011.
In December 2011, Napier was appointed Executive Director of the Hingham Housing Authority. At the time, Rossetti, doing business as Housing Inspection Services, was still performing inspections of Hingham Housing Authority units. From 2012-2015, Napier, as Executive Director, approved payments and co-signed approximately $22,000 in checks to Housing Inspection Services for performing inspections of Hingham Housing Authority units. Napier did not file any written disclosures with her appointing authority, the Hingham Housing Authority Board, regarding her relationship with Rossetti or Housing Inspection Services.
Napier violated Section 23(b)(3) of the conflict of interest law, which concerns appearances of bias or undue influence in official actions. As Housing Authority Executive Director, Napier approved and co-signed payments to Housing Inspection Services. A reasonable person aware of Napier’s connections to Rossetti and Housing Inspection Services would conclude that they could unduly enjoy Napier’s favor in her performance of her official Housing Authority duties. A municipal employee can dispel the appearance of such bias or undue influence and avoid violating Section 23(b)(3) by filing a written disclosure with his or her appointing authority prior to acting on a matter. Napier did not file such a disclosure with the Hingham Housing Authority Board.
The Housing Authority Board voted on August 18, 2015 to award a contract to Napier to assist in a lottery to sell a low-to-moderate-income unit in a condominium complex in Hingham. Napier earned approximately $4,660 for the housing lottery services she provided and thus violated Section 20 of the conflict of interest law, which generally prohibits municipal employees from having financial interests in contracts made by the city or town that employs them. While there are several exemptions to Section 20, none were applicable to Napier’s situation.
The State Ethics Commission is charged with enforcing the 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, they can also 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 617-963-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.