ETHICS COMMISSION FINES BASIL FOR DEMANDING RENT INCREASE FROM TENANT WHILE IN UNIFORM
The State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement in which former Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office (“SCSO”) Captain Alesandro Basile admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law, by meeting with his tenants to demand a rent increase, while in uniform, and while accompanied by a uniformed correctional officer, who was visibly armed with a gun, pepper spray and baton. Pursuant to the Agreement, Basile, a Rowley resident, paid a $1,000 civil penalty.
According to the Agreement, Basile owns an apartment building in East Boston. In early fall 2010, he rented one of the apartments to a married couple who spoke Spanish and limited English.
On November 2, 2010, while working as the shift commander at the Suffolk County Jail in Boston, Basile asked a correctional officer who spoke Spanish if he would drive Basile to the apartment building during a shift break and serve as a translator while Basile spoke with his tenants. Basile and the correctional officer, who were both in full SCSO uniform, took a marked SCSO cruiser to the apartment building. The correctional officer was visibly armed with a gun, pepper spray and baton. During a 30-minute conversation with his tenants, Basile, with the correctional officer translating, demanded that the couple pay an additional $100 per month in rent because another family member was staying with them in the apartment. The couple agreed to pay the additional rent. The next day, Basile asked the same correctional officer to call the couple and tell them there would not be a rent increase.
Basile retired from the SCSO on November 14, 2012.
Section 23(b)(2)(ii) 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 unwarranted privileges which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By arriving at his apartment building in a marked SCSO cruiser, and demanding a rent increase from his tenants while in SCSO uniform, and while accompanied by a uniformed, visibly armed correctional officer, Basile used his SCSO position to intimidate his tenants into agreeing to an increase in their rent. According to the Agreement, the demand for additional rent was an unwarranted privilege, given the inherently exploitive nature of the circumstances in which it was made.