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Settlement

Settlement In the Matter of John Laurenza

Date: 06/06/2012
Organization: State Ethics Commission
Docket Number: 12-0006

Disposition Agreement

This Disposition Agreement is entered into between the State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) and John Laurenza (“Laurenza”) pursuant to Section 5 of the Commission’s Enforcement Procedures.  This Agreement constitutes a consented-to final order enforceable in Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(j). 

On July 16, 2010, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, § 4(a), a preliminary inquiry into possible violations of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Laurenza.  On May 20, 2011, the Commission concluded its inquiry and found reasonable cause to believe that Laurenza violated G.L. c. 268A.

The Commission and Laurenza now agree to the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

Pocket Folder Kickback

Findings of Fact

1.  Laurenza was a graphic designer in the Lawrence Public Schools (“LPS”) Graphics Department (“Graphics Dept.”) from 2007 to June 30, 2010.

2.  Laurenza’s duties as a graphic designer included designing, producing and printing materials for LPS, and on occasion, ordering supplies for LPS.

3.  Algird Sunskis and Stephen Jarvis incorporated Wellington House Publishing, Inc. (“Wellington Publishing”) in 2007 and served as the sole officers until its  dissolution in 2009.

4.  In early 2008, LPS needed 10,000 pocket folders.[1]

5.  According to Laurenza, Wellington Publishing offered to give Laurenza money in exchange for Laurenza taking the necessary actions to ensure that Wellington Publishing obtained the LPS contract for the 10,000 pocket folders.

6. Wellington Publishing did not have the equipment to produce pocket folders.

7.  According to Laurenza, in his LPS capacity, Laurenza handled the bid process for the pocket folders contract by calling vendors for price quotes.

8.  Laurenza located a Lowell vendor to produce the pocket folders for $4,347.60.

9.  In his LPS capacity, Laurenza falsely certified to LPS that Wellington Publishing had provided the lowest bid, $4,788, regarding the pocket folders contract.

10.  In his LPS capacity, Laurenza arranged for LPS to issue a purchase order dated February 21, 2008, to Wellington Publishing for $4,788 for 10,000 pocket folders.

11.  On or about March 31, 2008, the Lowell vendor issued an invoice to Wellington Publishing for $4,347.60 for the 10,000 pocket folders.

12.  In or about April 2008, LPS received the pocket folders.

13.  On or about June 3, 2008, Wellington Publishing issued an invoice to LPS for $4,950.40 for the pocket folders.  (The increase between the $4,788 accepted  bid and the $4,950.40 invoice reflected a purported shipping charge.)

14.  On or about July 17, 2008, the City of Lawrence issued a check to Wellington Publishing for $4,950.40 in payment of the invoice.

15.  On or about August 27, 2008, Wellington Publishing issued a $245.84 check to Laurenza for arranging to have Wellington Publishing obtain the pocket folders contract.

Conclusions of Law

16.  Section 2(b) of G.L. c. 268A, in relevant part, prohibits a municipal employee from corruptly receiving anything of value for himself in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act or act within his official responsibility.

17.  Laurenza’s certifying Wellington Publishing as the low bidder on the pocket folders contract and arranging for LPS to issue a purchase order to Wellington Publishing for the pocket folders contract were official acts.

18.   As noted above, Laurenza received a $245.84 check from Wellington Publishing for enabling Wellington Publishing to obtain the pocket folder contract.

19.   The $245.84 payment was an item of value.

20.   At the time that Laurenza received the payment of $245.84 from Wellington Publishing, he did so in return for arranging for Wellington Publishing to improperly charge a $575.80 mark-up on the pocket folders.

21.   The exchange was corrupt because it involved bid rigging.  Laurenza participated in a sham bid process in which he misrepresented Wellington Publishing as the lowest bidder.  Once Wellington Publishing obtained the pocket folders contract, Wellington Publishing kicked back $245.84 as payment to Laurenza.  

22.   Thus, by corruptly receiving money in return for the performance of these official acts as an LPS Graphics Department graphic designer, Laurenza violated § 2(b).

Timesheet Kickback

Findings of Fact

23.  During spring 2008, Laurenza received a request from the LPS Payroll Department to update and print 15,000 copies of its carbon bi-weekly timesheet.

24.  According to Laurenza, Wellington Publishing agreed to give Laurenza money in exchange for Laurenza taking the necessary actions to ensure that Wellington Publishing obtained the contract for the 15,000 timesheets.

25.  Wellington Publishing did not have the equipment to produce the timesheets.

26.  According to Laurenza, in his LPS capacity, Laurenza handled the bid process for the timesheets contract by calling vendors for price quotes.

27.  Laurenza located a vendor to produce the timesheets for substantially less than $1,194.

28.  In his LPS capacity, Laurenza falsely certified to LPS that Wellington Publishing provided the lowest bid, $1,194, regarding the timesheets contract.

29.  In his LPS capacity, Laurenza arranged for LPS to issue a purchase order dated April 4, 2008, to Wellington Publishing for $1,194 for 15,000 timesheets.

30.  Neither the Wellington Publishing principals, nor Laurenza, recall the vendor that produced the timesheets or the amount that the vendor charged Wellington Publishing to produce the timesheets.

31.  In or about 2008, LPS received the timesheets.

32.  On or about August 26, 2008, Wellington Publishing issued an invoice to LPS for $1,347.92 for the timesheets.  (The increase between the $1,194 accepted bid and the $1,347.92 invoice reflected a purported shipping charge.)

33.  On or about September 29, 2008, the City of Lawrence issued a check to Wellington Publishing for $1,347.92 in payment of the invoice.

34.  On or about October 20, 2008, Wellington Publishing issued a $290.28 check to Laurenza for arranging to have Wellington Publishing obtain the timesheets contract.

Conclusions of Law

35.  Section 2(b) of G.L. c. 268A, in relevant part, prohibits a municipal employee from corruptly receiving anything of value for himself in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act or act within his official responsibility.

36.  Laurenza’s certifying Wellington Publishing as being the low bidder on the timesheets contract and arranging for LPS to issue a purchase order to Wellington Publishing for the timesheets contract were official acts.

37.  As noted above, Laurenza received a $290.28 check from Wellington Publishing for enabling Wellington Publishing to obtain the timesheets contract.

38.  The $290.28 payment was an item of value.

39.  At the time that Laurenza received the payment of $290.28 from Wellington Publishing, he did so in return for arranging for Wellington Publishing to improperly charge a mark-up on the timesheets contract, which according to Laurenza, resulted in a $300-$400 profit.

40.  The exchange was corrupt because it involved bid rigging.  Laurenza participated in a sham bid process in which he misrepresented Wellington Publishing as the lowest bidder.   Once Wellington Publishing obtained the timesheets contract, Wellington Publishing kicked back $290.28 as payment to Laurenza.

41.  Thus, by corruptly receiving money in return for the performance of these official acts as the Graphics Dept. graphics designer, Laurenza violated § 2(b).

Resolution

In view of the foregoing violations of G.L. c. 268A by Laurenza, 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 Laurenza:

  1. that Laurenza pay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with such payment to be delivered to the Commission, the sum of $4,000 as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, § 2(b);
  2. that Laurenza pay to the City of Lawrence, with such payment to be delivered to the Commission, the sum of $536.12 as a civil forfeiture of the unjust enrichment that he received through these violations of G.L. c. 268A, § 2(b); and
  3. that Laurenza waive all rights to contest, in this or any other administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party, the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement.

[1] A pocket folder is a folded sheet of light cardboard with openings, or pockets, inside for loose papers.

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