Updated at 4:20 p.m.
An Aquinnah board member was fined $10,000 for choosing himself to do municipal work and then approving the payment he received from the city, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the state panel.
Gary Haley had maintained his innocence, although there was never any question that he did the conduit work near the Aquinnah Cliffs.
Haley did not respond to a request for comment and instead released a statement through her attorney, Richard Gross, saying that while Haley disagrees with the decision made by the Ethics Commission of state, he will accept the decision and waive his right to appeal within 30 years. days in Superior Court.
At a hearing in June, Haley testified that he did the work to help the city and not to make money. “I think the city of Aquinnah is the greatest city in the world and I will help them in any way I can. Not only myself, but other people in town,” Haley said during that hearing. He told the commission that it was not uncommon for residents of Aquinnah to volunteer services to the city.
Haley also said he used his own machinery and had to bring in two assistants from a previous project on Lighthouse Road.
“There was no help in town, no one wanted to work,” Haley testified in June. The work was also carried out towards the end of the spring, so the schools were not yet finished. There was no more student hiring or summer help. Haley told the panel that he paid the two assistants in cash. “I told them from the start that it was the market and the only way to get things done in Aquinnah when needed is to pay cash.”
The state ethics commission’s final decision found that Haley violated conflict of interest law by choosing herself to install underground conduit for electrical cables, then approving a bill for $17,445. for the works. Haley was ordered to pay the $10,000 civil penalty, the statement said.
“In the spring of 2018, the city and three utility companies participated in a project to remove overhead wires from Aquinnah Circle and bury them underground. When two of the companies were unable to install the underground conduits for their wires in the trench opened for this purpose, Haley, a master electrician, told the town administrator that he would carry out the work for the city for free,” the statement read. “As a member of the board, Haley was the boss of the town administrator.”
The statement goes on to say that on the first day of work, Haley learned that the electric utility contractor, who was placing the electrical conduits in the bottom of the trench, was not going to place a necessary layer of sand over them before Haley . could install the telecommunications conduits of the other two companies above them in the trench. “Without consulting the city, Haley decided that he would do this extra work and seek payment from the city,” the statement read. “Haley then invoiced the city for $17,445 for the work and, as a member of the board, approved an expense warrant which included her invoice.”
According to the Ethics Commission, the state’s Conflict of Interest Act prohibits city employees from participating in an official capacity in matters in which they know they have a financial interest. “The commission found that Haley violated this prohibition when, as a restricted member of the board of directors, he decided that he would install the ducts, unilaterally decided that the city would be billed for the work, determined by him -even what would be the payment to himself, and then signed the payment from the city to himself,” the statement read.
The commission found that Haley did not violate the section of the law that prohibits city employees from contracting with their city because no contract was ever created. “Observing that Haley circumvented” the ban, the commission concluded, “As reprehensible as this conduct may be, it did not create a contract,” but said, “We do not condone this conduct any more than we we couldn’t”. tolerates a violation”.
The commission also found that it was not established that Haley submitted “a false or fraudulent claim” for payment for 22 hours of work by him and two workers. “Although the evidence raised questions as to whether two Haley workers claimed to have paid for the work or whether other workers had carried out this work without being paid by Haley, the commission concluded that there was no evidence that the city had not received 22 hours of work by two workers,” the statement said.
“Gary is pleased that the commission correctly concluded that he did not commit fraud in the city by submitting a false invoice and that the commission acknowledged that he had no contract with the city when he s ‘volunteered to respond to an emergency at Aquinnah Circle,’ according to the statement. “But he disagrees with the conclusion that he had a financial interest in a matter with the city. If he didn’t have a contract, he couldn’t have violated the allegation that he had an “effective contract with the city.” He also vigorously disputes that he had real or perceived knowledge that he was approving his own bill since he expected it to be presented to voters at a town meeting and not in a regular spending warrant.
The statement goes on to say that Haley will accept the commission’s decision. “This matter has been pending for over four years and Gary will accept the decision and put it behind him. He worked in good faith as a volunteer responding to an emergency at Aquinnah Circle in the weeks leading up to the start of the tourist season. in Aquinnah. The conduct of Eversource’s subcontractors required him to spend an inordinate amount of time and hire two additional laborers to do the work he volunteered to do. He only asked to be paid only when the cost of such work greatly exceeded what he had proposed to do. And he expected the voters of the town to approve payment for such work in the best interest of the town. He will continue to serve his city.
When The Times contacted Aquinnah Board Chair Juli Vanderhoop about the decision, she had not heard of it. Vanderhoop refrained from commenting until she knows more about what has been released. When asked if the council would take action based on the decision, she replied: “We’ll see where we are when we know more.”
Aquinnah City Administrator Jeffrey Madison was not immediately available for comment.
Updated to include a statement issued by Haley’s attorney and to correct the commission’s findings regarding fraud. The commission did not establish that fraud had been committed.