- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for State Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division Alleges Former Templeton Director of Veterans Services John Caplis 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 former Templeton Director of Veterans Services John Caplis violated the conflict of interest law by submitting a fraudulent veterans benefits invoice to the town to improperly reimburse a personal friend.
In 2015 and 2016, Caplis, as Templeton Director of Veterans Services, submitted invoices to the town for veterans benefits payable to his friend’s mother, who was eligible to receive the benefits because she was the widow of a veteran, according to the Order to Show Cause. In January 2017, Caplis’ friend applied for a building permit and was charged $484, which Caplis requested the Building Department waive, the Order States. The Building Department does not have the authority to waive permit fees.
The Order alleges that after Caplis’ friend paid the $484 permit fee, Caplis, as Director of Veterans Services, submitted a veterans benefits invoice to the town for a $484 reimbursement payable to his friend’s mother, care of his friend. On the invoice, Caplis identified the basis of the request as “medical and prescriptions,” according to the Order. The Order alleges that Caplis did not submit the claim to the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services for verification, breaking from standard procedure. According to the Order, Caplis in fact did not submit the invoice on behalf of his friend’s mother for reimbursement of $484 in medical and prescription expenditures, but rather filed it in order to improperly reimburse his friend for the building permit fee. The Order also states that Caplis was in a personal relationship with a relative of the friend during this time.
The conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from using their official positions to get for themselves or others valuable unwarranted benefits and from acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe they would unduly favor anyone while performing their official duties. The law further prohibits public employees from presenting false or fraudulent claims to their employer for payments or benefits. The Order asserts that Caplis violated each of these prohibitions when he, in his official capacity as Director of Veterans Services, submitted the allegedly fraudulent invoice to the town to obtain a reimbursement to which his friend was not entitled.
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 Caplis within 90 days.
The Commission is authorized to impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violations 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.