Settlement  In the Matter of Thomas J. Nolan

Date: 03/06/1987
Organization: State Ethics Commission
Docket Number: 324

Table of Contents

Disposition Agreement

This Disposition Agreement (Agreement) is entered into between the State Ethics Commission (Commission) and Thomas J. Nolan (Mayor Nolan) pursuant to section 11 of the Commission's Enforcement Procedures. This Agreement constitutes a consented to final Commission order enforceable in the Superior Court pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(j). 

On November 17,1986, the Commission initiated, pursuant to G.L. c. 268B, s.4(a), a preliminary inquiry into a possible violation of the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A, by Mayor Nolan of Chelsea. The Commission has concluded that inquiry and, on February 2,1987, found reasonable cause to believe that Mayor Nolan violated G.L. c. 268A, s.19. 

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

1. Mayor Nolan is the mayor of Chelsea, having been sworn in for his first two-year term in January 1986. Mayor Nolan is therefore a municipal employee as defined in s.1(g) of G.L. c. 268A. Prior to becoming mayor, Mayor Nolan was a Chelsea alderman for two two- year terms between 1980 and 1984. 

2. The Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) is responsible, pursuant to G.L. c. 121B, s.3, for public housing in Chelsea. The CHA is managed and governed, pursuant to G.L. c. 121B, s.5, by five members (called "commissioners"), one of whom is appointed by the state Department of Community Affairs and four of whom are appointed by the mayor of Chelsea, subject to Chelsea Board of Aldermen (Board of Aldermen) approval. 

3. CHA members are compensated for their services. CHA member compensation is determined on a quarterly basis, with each commissioner currently serving receiving an equal share of a total of two percent of the CHA income (less certain deductions) from certain CHA housing. During the past four years, annual compensation for CHA members has risen from approximately $1,000 to approximately $3,500. 

4. On or about June 6,1986, Mayor Nolan appointed his brother, Robert Nolan, to be a member of the CHA, and by letter requested the Board of Aldermen to confirm the appointment. Robert Nolan's appointment was subsequently confirmed by the Board of Aldermen by a 9-0-0 vote. 

5. Mayor Nolan neither sought nor received any legal counsel regarding his appointment of his brother prior to that appointment being made. 

6. On July 3, 1986, a check in the amount of $142.50 was issued to Robert Nolan by the CHA for his third quarter CHA commissioner's "salary." On or about July 7,1986, Robert Nolan cashed the CHA check. Although, on or about July 21,1986, Robert Nolan, on the advice of the Chelsea city solicitor, filed a notarized 

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"election to refuse and declination of compensation" with the CHA, he retained the $142.50 that he had previously received. 

7. On or before November 24,1986, Mayor Nolan was notified that the Commission had authorized a preliminary inquiry into the legality of his appointment of Robert Nolan to the CHA. 

8. On January 28, 1987, Robert Nolan resigned from the CHA. 

9. Section 19 of G.L. c. 268A provides in relevant part that, except as permitted[*] a municipal employee is prohibited from participating, as such an employee, in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, a member of his immediate family has a financial interest. 

10. The appointment of Robert Nolan to the CHA was a particular matter." Mayor Nolan "participated" in that matter by making the appointment and by requesting that the Board of Aldermen confirm it. Because the position was a paid position, Robert Nolan had, at the time of the appointment, a "financial interest," in the appointment. Mayor Nolan was aware at the time he appointed his brother that his brother would receive compensation for his services as a CHA member. 

11. By appointing his brother to be a CHA member, as described above, Mayor Nolan participated as mayor of Chelsea in a particular matter in which his brother had a financial interest, thereby violating G.L. c. 268A, s.19. 

In view of the foregoing violation of G.L. c. 268A, s.19, 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 Mayor Nolan: 

1. that he pay to the Commission the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000) as a civil penalty for violating G.L. c. 268A, s.19 by appointing his brother to membership on the CHA; and 

2. that he waive all rights to contest the findings of fact, conclusions of law and terms and conditions contained in this Agreement in any related administrative or judicial proceeding to which the Commission is or may be a party.

* None of the s.19 exceptions apply to this case

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