State Ethics Commission Dismisses Case Against Worcester County DA Joseph D. Early Jr., Senior First Assistant DA Jeffrey Travers, Former State Police Colonel Richard McKeon, and Former State Police Major Susan Anderson
Commission finds evidence did not prove Early, Travers, McKeon, and Anderson violated the conflict of interest law as alleged
The State Ethics Commission has issued a Final Decision and Order dismissing its case against Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., Senior First Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Travers, former State Police Colonel Richard McKeon, and former State Police Major Susan Anderson after finding that it had not been proved that they violated the conflict of interest law by their actions relating to the police report of the arrest of a judge’s daughter.
The Commission’s Enforcement Division initiated adjudicatory proceedings against Early, Travers, McKeon, and Anderson in June 2020 by issuing an Order to Show Cause against each of them alleging that their actions relating to the Massachusetts State Police report of the October 2017 OUI arrest of a judge’s daughter violated the conflict of interest law. It was alleged that the actions of Early, Travers, McKeon, and Anderson in connection with the revision of the police report to remove certain statements by the judge’s daughter and an attempt to replace the police report on file in court with the revised version violated the law’s prohibition against public employees using or attempting to use their official positions to secure for anyone a substantially valuable, unwarranted privilege that is not properly available to persons in similar situations and created an appearance of undue influence and favoritism. The multiple proceedings were consolidated and an adjudicatory hearing was held.
In its Final Decision and Order, the Commission found the evidence did not prove that the benefit the judge and/or his daughter purportedly would have received by having the arrest report revised and replaced as attempted was of substantial value. Because the substantial value of the alleged benefit improperly secured is an essential element of the violation alleged, after determining substantial value had not been proved, the Commission did not address any other element of the alleged violation. The Final Decision and Order states “Although we have reached our determination as to the failure of proof on the substantial value element, thus defeating the [section] 23(b)(2)(ii) claims, we take this opportunity to note that to the extent there were any concerns about protecting [the judge’s daughter] from prejudicial pretrial publicity in order to preserve her constitutional right to a fair trial, the better practice would have been to do so by filing a motion to redact to avoid the specter of special or favorable treatment raised by this case.”
The Commission also found it had not been proved that Early, Travers, McKeon, and Anderson violated the conflict of interest law’s prohibition against public employees acting in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to conclude that they would act or fail to act in performing an official duty because of kinship, rank, or undue influence from another person because it had not been proved that the actions of Early, Travers, McKeon, or Anderson would cause a reasonable person to conclude they had been unduly influenced by the judge or his daughter.
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.