Danvers DPW Director David Lane Pays $17,000 Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law

Lane accepted free ski trips, a golf outing, and a steakhouse dinner from water meter manufacturer and its distributor

Danvers Department of Public Works Director David Lane has paid a $17,000 civil penalty for violating the conflict of interest law by accepting free ski trips, a golf outing, and a steakhouse  dinner from a water meter manufacturer and its distributor. Lane signed a Disposition Agreement in which he admitted the violations and waived his right to a hearing.

The Danvers DPW uses a brand of water meter throughout its service area made by an Alabama-based manufacturer and sourced through the manufacturer’s sole authorized New England distributor. Lane has oversight responsibility for the DPW’s water meter purchases.

On multiple occasions, the water meter manufacturer and its distributor hosted ski trips and other events to which they invited employees of several municipal water districts and departments of public works, including, at times, Lane.

Lane took part in three-day ski trips the water meter vendors hosted in Sugarloaf, Maine, in 2018; Okemo, Vermont, in 2020; and Jay Peak, Vermont, in 2022. The water meter vendors paid for Lane’s lodging, and most of his meals. Lane had his own season ski pass that he used on the Okemo trip, and the water meter vendors paid for his ski lift tickets for the Sugarloaf and Jay Peak trips. In addition, the distributor hosted Lane at a golf event in October 2020, paying for his greens fees, meals, and drinks. In November 2020, a sales representative of the manufacturer treated Lane to dinner at a steakhouse.

The conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from accepting anything worth $50 or more that is given to them for or because of their official positions. When Lane accepted the free ski trips, golf outing, and steakhouse dinner from the water meter vendors, he violated this prohibition because he knew or had reason to know the vendors were giving him these gifts due to his position as Danvers DPW Director.

“When public employees accept valuable gifts from vendors, they create the appearance that they may be improperly influenced by the vendors or are likely to unduly favor them in their actions on the job,” said State Ethics Commission Executive Director David A. Wilson. “Accepting such gifts undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of the employees’ governmental service and is prohibited by the conflict of interest law.”

Earlier this year, current or former employees of Danvers, Franklin, Natick, Salem, Southampton, and the Sudbury Water District signed disposition agreements and paid civil penalties to resolve similar conflict of interest law violations related to accepting ski trips from the water meter manufacturer and distributor. In May, the Commission initiated adjudicatory proceedings against an Auburn Water District employee alleging that he also accepted free ski trips from the water meter vendors.

The Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission’s Legal Division at 617-371-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.