State Ethics Commission fines former Edgartown dredge chairman

The town-owned dredge was used to remove sand from around the pier of the dredge committee chairman's client. — File photo by Steve Myrick

Former Edgartown dredge advisory committee chairman and construction contractor Norman Rankow has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for violating state ethics laws.

Mr. Rankow admitted that he authorized a dredging project for one of his construction clients last January, without the required permits.

“None of the required permits had been issued for the dredging work, nor had the (dredge advisory) committee approved the use of the town’s dredge equipment and personnel to do the work,” the state Ethics Commission wrote in a statement issued Wednesday, announcing the disposition agreement with Mr. Rankow. “Nevertheless, on January 13, 2012, pursuant to committee chairman Rankow’s instructions, the dredge crew conducted dredging work for Rankow’s clients. The town paid the crew approximately $2,000 for the work.”

The ethics commission said Mr. Rankow’s actions violated the state law that “prohibits a municipal employee from, knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others unwarranted privileges or exemptions which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.”

The agreement noted that Mr. Rankow has reimbursed Edgartown for all legal fees and fines that resulted from the project and subsequent investigation.

The state fined the town $8,160 for the permit violations.

The controversy prompted selectmen to restructure the dredge advisory committee and require that selectmen, the conservation commission, and the dredge advisory committee all sign off on any future dredging projects.

Mr. Rankow could not be reached for comment.