|Organization:||State Ethics Commission|
Settlement In the Matter of Francis Molla
Table of Contents
The State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Francis Molla
("Molla") enter into this Disposition Agreement ("Agreement")
pursuant to s.5 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This
Agreement constitutes a consented to final order enforceable in the
Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(j).
On March 30, 1994, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L.
c. 268B, s.4(j), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of
the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Molla. The
Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on April 11, 1995, found
reasonable cause to believe that Molla violated G.L. c. 268A, s.3.
The Commission and Molla now agree to the following findings
of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. During the relevant period, Molla was a builder and
developer involved in various private construction projects in the
Town of Franklin. In connection with these projects, Molla had
matters before the building department, the planning board and the
conservation commission. In furtherance of these construction and
development projects, Molla had dealings with various town
officials including Bauer as town administrator.
2. During the time here relevant, Molla had completed
projects, had pending projects and expected to have additional
projects in Franklin.
3. Wolfgang Bauer ("Bauer") is the Franklin town
administrator. As town administrator, Bauer is the chief executive
officer of the town and is responsible for the effective
administration of all town affairs placed in his charge by or under
the town charter.
4. As town administrator, Bauer occasionally participates in
matters concerning private construction projects in town. For
example, Bauer occasionally attends meetings of and makes
recommendations to the zoning board of appeals, the planning board
and the conservation commission. He is involved in matters
concerning zoning bylaw enforcement, bond posting, the setting of
commercial developers fees and establishing development conditions
(such as betterments, sidewalks, traffic studies, etc.). Bauer
also appoints, subject to the consent of the City Council, and has
the ability to terminate the building inspector and other major
5. At all times here relevant, Molla and builder/developer
Patrick Marguerite ("Marguerite") and/or their families owned an
apartment building in Franklin called the Union Square Apartments.
6. In February 1992, Bauer was looking for an inexpensive
apartment to rent until his divorce was resolved, as he was living
out of a hotel room. The Union Square Apartments had many
7. Bauer, Marguerite and Molla entered into an oral agreement
that allowed Bauer to rent one of the vacant Union Square two
bedroom apartments at a reduced rent ("the apartment"). Bauer,
Marguerite and Molla testified that they agreed that Bauer could
rent the apartment at the reduced rate until Molla and Marguerite
could rent the apartment at the prevailing market rate, at which
time Bauer would either have to leave or pay the full rent.
8. Union Square two bedroom apartments rented for $500 and up
per month. There were no set rental values for all two bedroom
apartments, as the apartments were assigned rental values based
upon their distance from the end of the building; farthest away
from the railroad tracks had a higher rent, and those
next to the railroad tracks had a lower rent. Molla, or his agent,
selected the apartment that Bauer would occupy based on the
existing vacancies. Bauer and Molla testified that Bauer paid $200
rent each month for the apartment he occupied. There were always
vacancies during Bauer's occupancy.
9. Bauer rented the apartment under this arrangement from
February 1992 until September 1994 (31 months), when Marguerite
and Molla transferred ownership of the apartment building to a bank
in lieu of foreclosure.
Conclusions of Law
10. Section 3(a) of G.L. c. 268A, prohibits anyone from,
directly or indirectly, giving a municipal employee anything of
substantial value for or because of any official act performed or
to be performed by the municipal employee.
11. Anything with a value of $50 or more is of substantial
value for s.3 purposes.
12. The above-described reduced rent rate was of substantial
value each month.
13. Molla, by giving Bauer a reduced rental rate each month
while Bauer then was, recently had been or soon would be in a
position to take official action concerning Molla's projects in
town, gave Bauer a gratuity for or because of official acts or acts
within his official responsibility performed or to be performed by
Bauer as town administrator. In so doing, Molla violated G.L. c.
268A, s.3 each month.[4,5]
14. The Commission is aware of no evidence that the rental
arrangement referenced above was provided to Bauer with the intent
to influence any specific act by him as town administrator. The
Commission is also aware of no evidence that Bauer took any
official action concerning any of Marguerite's or Molla's projects
in return for the gratuities. However, even though the gratuities
were only intended to foster official goodwill, they were still
15. Molla fully cooperated with the Commission's
In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A by Molla,
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 terms and
conditions agreed by Molla:
(1) that Molla pay to the Commission the sum of five thousand
dollars ($5,000) as a civil penalty for his course of conduct
in violation G.L. c. 268A, s.3; and
(2) that Molla waive all rights to contest the findings of
fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in
this agreement or any other related administrative or judicial
proceedings to which the Commission is or may be a party.