Board rules complaint not an ethics matter

BEACON FALLS — The Ethics Board ruled that a complaint filed against Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo didn’t amount to an ethics violation under the town ordinance.

In August, resident Doug Bousquet filed the complaint stating that Rodorigo, on several occasions, sat at Building Inspector James Tucciarone’s desk, used his computer, and went through files without permission.

The board convened Sept. 21 to determine whether the complaint constituted a perceived violation as it relates to the town’s ethics ordinance. If so, the board would schedule a second meeting to hear testimony from Bousquet and Rodorigo.

Ultimately, the board voted, 5-0, that Rodorigo didn’t violate the ethics ordinance by sitting at Building Inspector James Tucciarone’s desk and going through files. Board Chairman Ryan Cloney, who ran the meeting, recused himself from the vote because he is Rodorigo’s bother-in-law.

“I think there is a valid issue here where an elected official shouldn’t go through a town employee’s files or records, but I don’t know if it would be up to the ethics commission to deal with it. I think there are other avenues that should have been taken,” Board member Lars Edgren said.

Ethics Board member Ned Grace pointed out that the ordinance only names five ethics violations for elected or appointed officials.

Under the ordinance, violations include accepting a gift of more than $50, entering into contract for more than $100 that is not work related, representing someone other than themselves, a family member, or their own business before a town board or commission, accepting money for any speech or appearance in an event in an official capacity, and not supplying a written disclosure of personal or financial interest in a matter that is before a board of commission.

“There are plenty of bad behaviors or inappropriate behaviors or any kind of behaviors that someone can deem as unethical. But we are constrained, in my opinion, in a fairly narrow scope,” Grace said.

Board member Rod Farrell said the town ordinance also adopts all of the relevant state statutes. He pointed out that the closest state statute in this case is one that prevents a public official from performing their job if he has reason to suspect he will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss by reason of his official activity.

“What they are asking us to infer from all this is that Mr. Rodorigo is a real estate agent and by looking at these documents he gets some kind of information that is going to help him out at his job. If you really want to stretch it and the testimony was right, it might fall into [the state statute],” Farrell said.

The board felt that it didn’t fall under this statute since it only covers official capacity, which would not cover the complaint against Rodorigo.

After the meeting, Rodorigo, who has denied using Tucciarone’s computer, said the outcome is what he anticipated.

“There was no ethics violation. There was no firsthand knowledge by the complainant. I knew that because I actually read and understood the ordinance,” Rodorigo said.

Bousquet and Tucciarone both expressed disappointment after the meeting.

Bousquet said no one had explained how the meeting was supposed to work.

“No one knew how this meeting was supposed to run. No one called me. I came on my own,” Bousquet said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s sad.”

Bousquet told the Waterbury Republican-American that he planned to file another complaint.

In a subsequent interview, Tucciarone, who is currently on administrative leave pending a review into an undisclosed matter that officials have said is unrelated, said he was disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to speak during the meeting.

“My impression is they didn’t have all the facts. They didn’t let me speak. How could they rule without my input,” Tucciarone said. “They mentioned my name three times but didn’t let me speak.”

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