Ethics Commission Fines Private Salesman $55K for Bribery

The State Ethics Commission has fined a salesman from CBE Holdings for paying bribes to an official at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to gain state funded contracts through the Transportation agency.

According to the Ethics Commission, salesman John Dunnet of CBE, admitted violating Mass General Law 268A, (the conflict of interest law) by illegally paying off the State Director of Information Technology Operations (“IT Director”) for the Department of Transportation.

Dunnet will pay a $35,000 civil penalty. No word from state officials as to criminal prosecution. The name of the Transportation Official Dunnet paid off was not released by the Ethics Commission.

“We didn’t release the name of that individual because he has since died and he is not here to defend himself,”
David Giannotti, Communications Division Chief for the Commission told The Valley Patriot today.

According to the Agreement, in 2006 and 2007, Dunnet met the IT Director for lunch about twice a month. On 32 occasions between October 2006 and December 2007, Dunnet wrote separate checks of approximately $4,500 from his personal checking account to the IT Director, who cashed the checks.

In total, Dunnet gave $142,500 to the IT Director. During this time, Dunnet was seeking to have The Department of Transportation award two contracts to CBE: a statewide telephony systems contract worth approximately $2 million; and a so-called “thin client project” contract worth approximately $384,000.

The Agreement between ethics and Dunnet states that neither CBE nor the Department of Transportation was aware of the payments from Dunnet to the IT Director.

The statewide telephony contract systems contract was never awarded by EOT, but CBE and a hardware vendor were awarded the thin client project contract.

“Section 3(a) of the conflict of interest law prohibits anyone, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty, from directly or indirectly giving anything of substantial value to a state employee for or because of any official act performed or to be performed.”

The Agreement states that Dunnet violated section 3(a) each time he made a payment to the IT Director in an effort to obtain favorable treatment regarding the two Department of Transportation contracts CBE was seeking to be awarded.

“Paying a public employee in an attempt to influence a contract decision or any other official action is an egregious violation of the conflict of interest law,” Commission Executive Director Karen L. Nober said.

“The substantial civil penalty in this case reflects the seriousness of the violations.”