Haley ethics appeal dismissed

A Suffolk County Superior Court judge upheld a decision by the State Ethics Commission. 

An appeal by Aquinnah select board member Gary Haley was dismissed. —Eunki Seonwoo

A Suffolk county judge has shot down an appeal by an Aquinnah Select Board member who tried to fight back against charges that he violated state ethics laws when he approved payments to himself for doing work for the town.

In October 2022, the Massachusetts Ethics Commission ordered Gary Haley to pay $10,000 for choosing himself to do conduit work for Aquinnah, and then approving the payment of $17,445 he received from the town in 2018. The commission found Haley, a master electrician by trade, to have been in violation of the conflict-of-interest law. 

Haley maintained his innocence during the ethics hearings in 2022, although he admitted to doing the work at Aquinnah Circle. He claimed to have responded to an emergency situation by volunteering his services. 

On Feb. 5, Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Mark A. Hallal denied Haley’s motion on appeal, and affirmed the commission’s decision. 

Judge Hallal wrote in his memorandum that Haley violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law in two instances. One, he participated as a select board member in a matter in which “he knew he had a financial interest.” Haley had argued that proof was needed from the commission’s allegations that he “effectively awarded himself a contract,” and that he was not given enough notice about the alleged violation. The judge disagreed, saying Haley’s financial interest in a contract was not required for the proof of the violation, and that Haley was given adequate notice. 

The other violation was voting as a select board member and approving a warrant that included the invoice paid to him. Haley had argued that he thought the invoice would be paid at the town meeting, and voters would decide whether or not they wanted it paid. The commission found that Haley was “willfully blind” to the fact his invoice was in the warrant, and the appeal judge agreed.

“The evidence that Haley signed the warrant while deliberately ignoring that his own invoice was included, the commission properly inferred that Haley had knowledge of his financial interest in the matter,” the memorandum reads.

Richard Gross, Haley’s attorney, said on Thursday morning he had not yet spoken with his client about the dismissal. 

“We have nothing to say right now,” Gross said when asked whether there were plans to take the case to a higher court.