FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2010
Contact: David Giannotti, Communications Division Chief
Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division Alleges that State Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci
Violated the Conflict of Interest Law
Hired his first cousin at the State Auditor’s Office
The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) today issued an Order to Show Cause (“OTSC”) alleging that State Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci (“DeNucci”) violated G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by directing that subordinates hire his cousin for a position at the State Auditor’s Office (“SAO”).
According to the OTSC, in January 2008, DeNucci suggested to his first cousin, Gaetano Spezzano (“Spezzano”), that Spezzano work for the SAO. Spezzano was 75 years old and unemployed at the time. Spezzano completed the first page of a two-page employment application, but did not complete the second page which requested information about previous employment. The OTSC alleges that DeNucci directed subordinates to interview Spezzano, and a deputy auditor then recommended Spezzano for a fraud examiner position with the SAO’s Bureau of Special Investigations (“BSI”). On March 24, 2008 DeNucci, by letter, offered a fraud examiner position to Spezzano. Spezzano requested, and was approved, to work at the BSI’s Brockton office, as it was nearest to his home. The OTSC alleges that, at the time Spezzano was offered the position, there was no vacant fraud examiner position at the BSI, Spezzano did not have the skills or knowledge required of a fraud examiner and no other candidates were considered for the position for which Spezzano was hired. Spezzano worked in the position until going out on sick leave in December 2009. His employment was terminated in April 2010 after he exhausted sick leave and sick leave bank time.
Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict of interest law prohibits a state employee from, knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals. According to the OTSC, DeNucci violated section 23(b)(2) by directing his staff to interview Spezzano, and by offering the job to Spezzano, his first cousin.
Section 23(b)(3) prohibits a state employee from, knowingly, or with reason to know, acting in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to conclude that any person can improperly influence or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is likely to act or fail to act as a result of kinship, rank, position or undue influence of any party or person. The section further provides that it shall be unreasonable to so conclude if such officer or employee has disclosed in writing to his appointing authority or, if no appointing authority exists, discloses in a manner which is public in nature, the facts which would otherwise lead to such a conclusion. According to the OTSC, by hiring his cousin at the SAO without filing a written public disclosure to dispel the appearance of impropriety, DeNucci also violated section 23(b)(3).
The Commission will schedule the matter for a public hearing within 90 days.