In full transparency, the following is a press release the Massachusetts Ethics Commission
BOSSTON – Wellesley Fire Chief Richard DeLorie has admitted to violating the conflict of interest law by participating in the town’s hiring of his son as a firefighter and using his official position to alter the hiring process to favor his son. DeLorie paid a $10,000 civil penalty, signed a disposition agreement approved by the State Ethics Commission, and waived his right to contest the Commission’s findings.
DeLorie’s son passed the firefighter entrance exam in 2018, when Wellesley had three entry-level firefighter openings. DeLorie disclosed in writing to his appointing authority, the Board of Selectmen, that his son had taken the exam and notified the Board that he would not participate in any capacity in the firefighter review and selection process. Nevertheless, DeLorie participated in the process on multiple occasions.
DeLorie designated the assistant fire chief to manage the hiring process. A panel consisting of the assistant chief, the town human resources director and staff, the president of the firefighters union, and a ranking member of the Fire Department interviewed eight firefighter candidates, including DeLorie’s son.
Members of the interview panel selected three candidates to recommend to the Board of Selectmen for appointment as firefighters.
DeLorie’s son was not selected.
After DeLorie was informed that the interview panel did not select his son, he criticized the panel’s selections and instructed the assistant chief to halt the hiring process while he conferred with members of the Board of Selectmen. DeLorie then contacted the chair and vice chair of the Board of Selectmen and criticized the hiring process and the candidates selected and praised the qualifications of his son and another unsuccessful candidate. In emails to the vice chair, DeLorie expressed concern that the interview panel did not consider the community involvement of the candidates. The chair reminded DeLorie that DeLorie had recused himself from the hiring process and needed to stay recused from the process. DeLorie, however, emailed the vice chair a scan of the front page of a 2003 local newspaper showing DeLorie and his son, then age 10, helping to serve Thanksgiving meals to seniors as an example of his son’s community involvement.
In a subsequent email to the chair and vice chair, DeLorie claimed the assistant chief and the union had agreed to hold a second round of interviews. The union in fact did not request the additional interviews. After the second round of interviews, which focused on community involvement, DeLorie’s son was among the three candidates selected to be recommended for appointment as firefighters. DeLorie then sought the chair’s and vice chair’s support for the interview panel’s new selections. The chair again reminded DeLorie that he had recused himself from the hiring process.
At this point in the hiring process, an additional firefighter position became available and the Board of Selectmen directed the interview panel to conduct a third round of interviews. DeLorie’s son was one of the finalists following the third round of interviews and the Board of Selectmen appointed him as a firefighter.
The conflict of interest law generally prohibits public employees from participating in matters in which they or members of their immediate family have a financial interest. Although DeLorie was not involved in the candidate interviews, he violated this prohibition by participating in the firefighter hiring process multiple times, including by criticizing the interview panel’s initial candidate selections and the overall process, directing the assistant chief to halt the process, praising his son’s qualifications, and seeking support from the chair and vice chair of the Board of Selectmen for the appointment of his son.
In addition, the conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from using their official positions to provide themselves others with unwarranted privileges or benefits that are not otherwise available. DeLorie violated this prohibition by intervening as fire chief to have the hiring process halted and redirected to favor his son.
The State Ethics Commission is charged with civilly enforcing the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. When three or more of the Commission’s five members vote to find reasonable cause to believe a public employee has violated the law, they can 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.