Press Release

Press Release  IG Shapiro Calls on Uxbridge Town Officials to Improve Contract Approval Process

An OIG Investigation found that the host community agreement between Uxbridge and Ironstone Express was altered.
For immediate release:
  • Office of the Inspector General

Media Contact   for IG Shapiro Calls on Uxbridge Town Officials to Improve Contract Approval Process

Carrie Kimball, Communications Officer

Boston, MA — Inspector General Jeffrey S. Shapiro called on Uxbridge town leaders to improve the process by which contracts and legal agreements are approved after an investigation found that a cannabis retailer altered its host community agreement (HCA) without detection in a letter issued today.

“It is critical that municipalities have strong contracting procedures in place to mitigate vulnerabilities, as illustrated by this troubling and preventable course of events,” Shapiro said.

The OIG investigated the host community agreement approval process for Ironstone Express after receiving a complaint in June 2020. State law requires that a marijuana business obtain an HCA from the municipality where it intends to operate.  The business must have an HCA before it can receive its license from the Cannabis Control Commission.

The investigation found that Ironstone’s owner, Barry Desruisseaux, altered the HCA after the town denied his requested changes. He received the HCA via email from the town and was instructed to sign and return it. By this time, the town manager who had initially discussed the HCA with Desruisseaux had left the position. Desruisseaux deleted key provisions, such as business hours, town’s input on facility managers and the circumstances under which the town could terminate the HCA, renumbered the paragraphs, signed and hand-delivered it to Town Hall. The then-acting town manager, who was not involved in the original discussions, signed it without reviewing it.

The OIG recommended that the town of Uxbridge implement measures to prevent and detect changes to contracts and other legal agreements prior to execution by ensuring that documents are locked once parties come to an agreement and establish a final review process before documents are signed.

The OIG further recommended that the town review the Ironstone HCA with legal counsel to determine if legal remedies are available.

“This situation demonstrates that we cannot assume that basic, fundamental practices are followed within each municipality with regard to contract negotiation, review and execution. Basic controls must be used to protect municipal interests and resources when entering into contracts or agreements with private entities,” Shapiro said.  “It is unfortunate, but we must always be vigilant to protect against those with nefarious intent. Changes to the contract were requested, denied and then the contract was changed without detection by the town.”


Media Contact   for IG Shapiro Calls on Uxbridge Town Officials to Improve Contract Approval Process

  • Office of the Inspector General 

    The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is an independent agency that prevents and detects fraud, waste and abuse of public funds and public property and promotes transparency and efficiency in government. We serve the residents of Massachusetts, state and local governments, and those who work with the government.
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