- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for State Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division Alleges Former Arlington Inspectional Services Director Michael Byrne Violated Conflict of Interest Law
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — The State Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division issued an Order to Show Cause today alleging that former Arlington Inspectional Services Department Director Michael Byrne repeatedly violated the conflict of interest law by allowing his plumbing company to do work in Arlington without permits or inspections, by creating fraudulent permits for plumbing work his company performed without permits, by inspecting his company’s work, by issuing certificates of occupancy for properties where his company performed work, and by issuing a certificate of occupancy for a property owned by a developer who had loaned him money.
Byrne, who owned Trademark Plumbing, was director of the town of Arlington’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) from 1997-2021. As ISD Director, Byrne was responsible for enforcing the state building, wiring, and plumbing codes. From 2016 through 2020, Byrne allowed Trademark Plumbing to perform plumbing work in Arlington without permits at 37 locations and without inspections at eight locations, according to the Order to Show Cause. The Order alleges Byrne, as ISD Director, also performed inspections on Trademark Plumbing’s work at six locations, issued certificates of occupancy for two properties where the company did work, and created eight fraudulent plumbing permits for work the company had performed without permits. The Order further alleges that in 2017, Byrne, as ISD Director, issued a certificate of occupancy for a building owned by a developer who provided him with loans totaling $25,000 in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from participating officially in matters in which they or businesses they own have a financial interest. The Order alleges Byrne violated this prohibition by inspecting Trademark Plumbing’s work and issuing certificates of occupancy for properties where the company had done work.
The Order also alleges that by allowing Trademark Plumbing to perform work without permits or inspections, and by creating eight fraudulent permits for the company, Byrne violated the conflict of interest law’s prohibition against public employees using their official positions to obtain valuable, unwarranted privileges.
Additionally, the conflict of interest law requires that public employees avoid acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe they would unduly favor another person or be unduly influenced by another person when performing an official act. The Order alleges Byrne violated this requirement by issuing a certificate of occupancy for property owned by the developer who provided him with private loans.
Pursuant to the Commission’s Enforcement Procedures, the Enforcement Division files an Order to Show Cause after the Commission has found reasonable cause to believe the subject of the Order violated the conflict of interest law. Before filing the Order to Show Cause, the Enforcement Division gives the subject an opportunity to resolve the matter through a disposition agreement. The Commission will schedule a public hearing on the allegations against Byrne within 90 days.
The Commission is authorized to impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the conflict of interest law.
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.