Board finds three Groton Utilities officials violated ethics code

Groton — The Groton Board of Ethics on Monday found that three Groton Utilities officials violated the city ethics code by attending a 2016 trip to the Kentucky Derby, and recommended that Groton Utilities Commissioner Edward DeMuzzio resign or be removed from his position by Dec. 31.

The board also recommended that DeMuzzio resign or be removed from his position on the Bozrah Utilities Commission by Dec. 31. The Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative hosted the Derby trip, which cost $342,330 for 44 participants.

The board recommended that DeMuzzio and GU General Manager of Utility Finance David Collard pay a $100 fine to the City of Groton, pay $7,500 to a nonprofit such as Groton Human Services programs to support needy families by Dec. 31, and that a letter of reprimand be placed in their personal files for violation of the ethics code. The board recommended that Collard remain in his job.

The board recommended that GU Director Ronald Gaudet, who attended the trip but only for one day, be fined $100 to the City of Groton, pay $3,250 to a nonprofit such as Groton Human Services programs to help needy families by Dec. 31, and that a letter of reprimand be placed in his file for violating the ethics code. Board members recommended that Gaudet also remain in his position.

The recommendations now go to the Groton City Council for action.

DeMuzzio knew more than anyone else about the nature of the trip, ethics Commissioner Lori Hellum said. “And whether it was his obligation or someone else’s obligation, he knew the most and his actions showed disregard, total disregard for his position as far as the City of Groton is concerned.”

DeMuzzio and Collard could not be immediately reached for comment. Gaudet said after the meeting he wanted to thank the ethics board for its hard work.

The board found the three officials violated the code in six areas: They engaged in conduct that conflicted with the proper discharge of their duties; they engaged in conduct that would tend to impair their judgment; they had a substantial financial interest in conflict with the proper discharge of their duties; they had a substantial financial interest that would tend to impair their judgment; that they misused city resources for their personal advantage or convenience and they engaged in behavior that was not honorable or fair to the general public.

“Mistrust was established here that the public quickly concerned themselves with and showed their frustration,” Ethics Board chairman Robert Zuliani said.

The board found Collard also violated the code by attending a trip to the Kentucky Derby in 2015. Collard agreed that the board could combine both trips into a single recommendation to the city council.

The board dismissed a complaint about participation in a retreat to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia in October 2015. The board also dismissed complaints about “free Thames Valley Cable service” and a complaint about a 2013 Kentucky Derby trip. The board must receive a complaint within two years of the alleged violation and does not have jurisdiction over complaints raised after that time, Zuliani said.

 

 

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