|Organization:||State Ethics Commission|
Settlement In the Matter of Francis Sandonato
Table of Contents
This Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into between the State Ethics Commission ("Commission") and Francis Sandonato ("Sandonato") 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 June 12, 1994, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Sandonato had violated the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. The Commission has concluded its inquiry and, on September 27, 1994, voted to find reasonable cause to believe that Sandonato violated G.L. c. 268A, s.3.
The Commission and Sandonato now agree to the following facts and conclusions of law:
1. At all times here relevant, Sandonato was employed by the Massachusetts Highway Department ("MHD") as a civil engineer. As such, Sandonato was a state employee as that term is defined in G.L. c. 268A, s.1.
2. Middlesex Paving Corporation ("Middlesex") is a group of affiliated companies doing business in Massachusetts. Middlesex performs a variety of construction services including maintenance and street paving. A substantial portion of Middlesex's business consists of state contracts.
3. As a MHD civil engineer, Sandonato was responsible for supervising and inspecting work performed by state contractors, including Middlesex.
4. During 1992, Middlesex successfully bid for MHD contracts valued at over $28 million. These contracts were awarded to Middlesex as the lowest qualified bidder.
5. On December 19, 1992, Middlesex hosted a Christmas party at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston. The explicit purpose of the party was to foster goodwill with employees and individuals
doing business with Middlesex. The party included cocktails, dinner, entertainment and overnight hotel accommodations for certain guests.
6. Sandonato and his wife attended the Middlesex party and stayed overnight at the Marriott as Middlesex's guests. The cost to Middlesex was approximately $170.
7. Section 3(b) of G.L. c. 268A prohibits a state employee from accepting anything of substantial value for or because of any official act or act within his official responsibility performed or to be performed by him. Anything with a value of $50 or more is of substantial value for s.3 purposes.
8. By receiving $50 or more in entertainment and hotel accommodations from Middlesex while, as a MHD civil engineer, he was supervising Middlesex's contracts, and where he had been involved in prior Middlesex contracts and was likely to be involved in future Middlesex contracts, Sandonato received a gift of substantial value for or because of acts within his official responsibility performed or to be performed by him. In so doing, Sandonato violated G.L. c. 268A, s.3(b).
9. The Commission is aware of no evidence that the entertainment referenced above was provided to Sandonato with the intent to influence any specific act by him as a MHD civil engineer or any particular act within his official responsibility. The Commission is also aware of no evidence that Sandonato took any official action concerning any Middlesex contracts in return for the gratuities. However, even though the gratuities were only intended to foster official goodwill, they were still impermissible.
10. Sandonato fully cooperated with the Commission's investigation.
In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Sandonato, 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 to by Sandonato:
(1) that Sandonato pay to the Commission the sum of three hundred and forty dollars ($340.00) for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.3(b);
(2) that Sandonato will act in conformance with the requirements of G.L. c. 268A in his future conduct as a state employee; and
(3) that Sandonato waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this agreement and in any related administrative or judicial proceedings to which the Commission is or may be a party.