NECC Police Academy Director Thomas Fleming Pays $5,000 Fine for Violating Conflict of Interest Law

Fleming received commissions on training gear sold to Police Academy

Northern Essex Community College Police Academy Director Thomas Fleming has paid a $5,000 civil penalty after admitting he violated two sections of the conflict of interest law by recommending the college purchase training gear for the Academy from his private employer, a sporting goods company, and by representing both the Academy and the company in those transactions. Fleming received commissions on the purchases.

The State Ethics Commission on August 2 approved a disposition agreement in which Fleming admitted to the violations, waived his right to contest the Commission’s findings, and agreed to pay the civil penalty.

NECC hired Fleming as a consultant in 2014 to help establish the Police Academy and appointed him Academy Director in August 2015. While working for NECC, Fleming also worked part-time for All Sports Heroes Uniforms, Sporting Goods and Promotions, Inc., a private uniform and sporting goods company. In July 2015, Fleming began earning commissions on All Sports Heroes sales, including the sale of physical training gear to the NECC Police Academy, which orders and pays for physical training gear for all Academy recruits. On multiple occasions from 2015 through 2017, Fleming presented price quotes from All Sports Heroes to NECC, recommended the college purchase training gear for the Academy from All Sports Heroes, filled the Academy’s purchase orders, and approved payment of All Sports Heroes’ invoices for the purchases. Fleming received approximately $5,000 in commissions on training gear sales to the Academy.

Shortly after the State Ethics Commission contacted and interviewed him, Fleming wrote a letter to the NECC President notifying him that he had been employed by All Sports Heroes since 2014 and may have had an indirect financial interest in contracts made between the company and the college. Fleming tendered checks to the college totaling $2,952, the amount he be believed he had earned in commissions on sales to NECC.

By representing All Sports Heroes in transactions with NECC while also working for NECC, Fleming repeatedly violated Section 4(c) of the conflict of interest law, which prohibits a state employee from representing or acting as the agent of anyone in connection with a matter in which the Commonwealth or a state agency is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Fleming also repeatedly violated section 6 of the conflict of interest law, which prohibits a state employee from participating in his official capacity in a matter in which he or his private employer has a financial interest. Those violations occurred when Fleming, as an NECC employee, recommended that NECC purchase equipment from All Sports Heroes, forwarded price quotes to the NECC purchasing department, and approved invoices from All Sports Heroes despite knowing that he and his private employer had financial interests in the purchases.

The State Ethics Commission is charged with enforcing the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. When at least three of the Commission’s five members vote to find reasonable cause to believe a public employee has violated the law, they can also authorize adjudicatory proceedings to determine whether the violation occurred. The public employee then has the opportunity to enter into a public disposition agreement rather than exercising his or her right to a hearing.

The Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission’s Legal Division at 617-963-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.