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Official fined $2,500 for ethics violation.

Byline: Donna Boynton

UXBRIDGE -- Michael Potaski, a Conservation Commission member and former selectman, has been fined $2,500 by the state Ethics Commission.

The ethics panel announced the civil penalty against Mr. Potaski Monday morning.

In addition to being a member of the Conservation Commission, Mr. Potaski is the vice president of the nonprofit Uxbridge Housing Associates, which is an unpaid position.

According to the Ethics Commission, on three occasions -- Nov. 5, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, 2012 -- Mr. Potaski abstained from participating as a member of the Conservation Commission and then spoke on behalf of Uxbridge Housing Associates in opposition to an application for a notice of intent filed by the Mumford River Condominium Trust. The trust was seeking a permit to dam and divert a waterway that flowed underneath its building. The 66-unit Crown and Eagle housing development, owned by Uxbridge Housing Associates, is downstream from the trust's building.

In addition, Mr. Potaski sent an e-mail on Nov. 29, 2013, to the state Department of Environmental Protection to ask it to intervene in the matter.

The state's conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from acting as an agent for anyone other than the municipality in connection with a particular matter to which the municipality is a party or in which it has a direct and substantial interest.

The Ethics Commission approved a disposition agreement with Mr. Potaski. Under that agreement, Mr. Potaski admitted to violating the conflict of interest law by appearing on several occasions before the Conservation Commission and by sending an e-mail to the state Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of Uxbridge Housing Associates.

"The conflict of interest law seeks to prevent divided loyalties,'' said Karen L. Nober, executive director of the Ethics Commission. "Municipal employees therefore cannot represent private business interests before their own municipal boards, even if the private representation involved a non-profit organization and even if the employee is not paid for that representation.''

Contact Donna Boynton at

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Boynton, Donna
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 5, 2014
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