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Settlement In the Matter of Ellis John Hatem

Date: 11/22/1982
Organization: State Ethics Commission
Docket Number: 187

Table of Contents

Disposition Agreement

This disposition agreement ("agreement") is entered into between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Ellis John Hatem ("Mr. Hatem") pursuant to Section 11 of the Commission's Procedures Covering the Initiation and Conduct of Preliminary Inquiries and Investigations. The parties agree that this agreement constitutes a consented to final order of the Commission enforceable in the Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(d). 

On May 18, 1982, the Commission initiated a preliminary inquiry, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), into possible violations of the Conflict-of-Interest Law, G.L. c. 268A, involving Mr. Hatem, Director of Support Services at the Walter E. Fernald School ("school"), a Department of Mental Health facility. 

The Commission has concluded that preliminary inquiry and, on September 7, 1982, found reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Hatem has violated G.L. c. 268A, s.3(b). The parties now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law: 

1. At all times material herein, Mr. Hatem was Director of Support Services for the school and, as such, was a state employee as defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1(q). 

2. As Director of Support Services, Mr. Hatem had administrative control over nine different departments, including the laundry, housekeeping and maintenance. 

3. From 1979 through 1981, Charles Young ("Mr. Young") was a representative of various chemical supply companies and sold housekeeping chemicals to the school. Mr. Young also was used by school officials to procure other items, e.g., trash cans, paper towels, as needed.

 4. During that period, Mr. Hatem made purchases for or approved purchases by the departments under his supervision from Mr. Young. All such purchases were subject to further approval by the school steward's office. 

5. In February of 1980, Mr. Hatem, his wife and son traveled to Lake Placid, New York to attend the Winter Olympics. The costs of their transportation and tickets to the Olympics (valued at $110 per person) were paid for by Mr. Young. 

6. General Laws, Chapter 268A, s.3(b) provides, in pertinent part, that a state employee, other than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty, shall not directly or indirectly accept, receive or agree to receive anything of substantial value for himself for or because of any official act or acts within his official responsibility performed or to be performed by him. 

7. By receiving from Mr. Young items of substantial value, i.e. transportation and tickets to the Olympics for himself and family, Mr. Hatem violated s.3(b). These items were given to Mr. Hatem in view of his official duties in making or approving purchases of products from Mr. Young. 

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As the Commission stated in In the Matter of George A. Michael, Commission Adjudicatory Docket No. 137, Decision and Order, pg. 31 (September 28,1981): 

A public employee need not be impeded to wrongdoing as a result of receiving a gift or gratuity of substantial value, in order for a violation of Section 3 to occur. Rather, the gift may simple by a token of gratitude for a well-done job or an attempt to foster good-will. All that is required to bring Section 3 into play is a nexus between the motivation for the gift and the employee's public duties. If this connection exists, the gift is prohibited. To allow otherwise would subject public employees to a host of temptations which would undermine the impartial performance of their duties, and permit multiple remuneration for doing what employees are already obliged to do a good job. Sound public policy necessitates a flat prohibition since the alternative would present unworkable burdens of proof. It would be nearly impossible to prove the loss of an employee's objectivity or to assign a motivation to his exercise of discretion. If public credibility in government institutions is to be fostered, constraints which are conducive to reasoned, impartial performance of public functions are necessary, and it is in this context that Section 3 operates. 

WHEREFORE, the Commission has determined that the public interest would be served by the disposition of this matter without further enforcement proceedings on the basis of the following representations agreed to by Mr. Hatem: 

1. That in light of the conduct described above, he pay the Commission the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) forthwith as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.3(b); and 

2. That he pay the Commission three hundred and thirty dollars ($330.00) as forfeiture of the economic advantage gained by himself and his family as a result of this violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.3(b); and 

3. That he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and conditions contained in this agreement in this or any related administrative or judicial proceedings.