Skip Navigation

Investigations

The Commission is empowered to begin investigations either upon receipt of a complaint or on its own initiative. In 2009, the Commission opened 61 cases and issued 36 Notices of Reasonable Cause. Pursuant to Executive Law §94(12)(b) and 17(a)(3), a Notice of Reasonable Cause is a public document, issued upon a vote of the Commissioners, that alleges a violation of the law: it not a finding of guilt.

If at any stage of an investigation prior to the issuance of the Notice, the Commission determines either that there is no violation or that any potential conflict of interest violation has been rectified, it notifies the complainant and the subject of the complaint and terminates the investigation. Pursuant to Executive Law §94(12)(a), the investigation then remains confidential.

Summary of Major Cases

Crane, et al.: The Commission reached a settlement of $60,000 in a case involving three companies: Powers Crane & Company, LLC, Crane and Vacco, LLC and Crane Consulting, LLC. As part of the agreement, the companies admitted to all of the violations of law that the Commission alleged.

Powers Crane & Company admitted six violations of false filing of a bi-monthly report. Four of the reports involved Duane Reade, Inc., one involved the New York State Laborer's Political Action Committee, and one involved Delaware North Companies, Inc.

Crane and Vacco admitted two violations of false filing of a bi-monthly report. One involved the Cable Telecommunications Association of New York and the other involved Delaware North Companies, Inc.

Crane & Vacco and Crane Consulting Group admitted providing a gift to two public officials in excess of the maximum permitted by law.

The cases were referred to the Commission in September 2007 after the final meeting by the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying. As part of the agreements, the companies waived their right to challenge the settlements in any proceeding, judicial or otherwise.

Marie G. DiMicco: The largest civil settlement ever reached with a former State employee came when Marie G. DiMicco, a former Supervisor of Pharmacy at Westchester County Healthcare Corporation (WCHC), admitted that she violated the post-employment restrictions of the ethics law by illegally appearing before her former agency within two years of leaving State service. The Public Officers Law generally prohibits former State employees from appearing before or providing services to their former agencies within two years of leaving State service. Ms. DiMicco was hired as a Clinical Pharmacist of Cardinal Health, Inc. and allegedly performed duties as a Cardinal employee at WCHC. She agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25,000.

Troopergate: In 2008, the Commission charged three former officials of the Executive Chamber and the former Acting Superintendent of the State Police with violating the Public Officers Law when they utilized the State Police to create records and gather information and documents regarding Senator Joseph L. Bruno's travel to New York City in May and June 2007.

Two officials reached settlements with the Commission in 2008. In 2009, the Commission assessed a civil penalty of $10,000 against Darren Dopp, former Communications Director to then-Governor Eliot Spitzer, in regard to his involvement in the matter. Mr. Dopp misused the resources of the State Police to create official-looking documents, which otherwise would not have existed, as part of his scheme to discredit a political opponent. The Commission noted, "Such misconduct erodes public confidence in both the integrity and the independence of our State Police."

The Commission also reached a settlement with Preston Felton, former Acting Superintendent of the State Police. As part of the agreement, Mr. Felton admits that he violated Public Officers Law 74(3)(h) "by acceding to requests . . . to create documents and transmit sensitive information concerning senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno's use of State aircraft for trips to New York City and his ground itineraries during such trips." The law does not authorize the Commission to assess a monetary penalty for this violation.

Bill Lynch Associates: The Commission required a lobbyist to hire an outside monitor to ensure the lobbyist has adequate compliance procedures and that any future violations of the lobbying law are promptly reported to the Commission. In addition, the lobbyist agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty.

Bill Lynch & Associates, LLC was charged with failing to file an Amended Statement of Registration indicating that its client, Trustees of Columbia University of New York City, had increased its compensation by almost $400,000. During discussions with the Commission, Mr. Lynch voluntarily reported other discrepancies of which the Commission was not aware.

Under the agreement, Mr. Lynch will pay Mark Glaser, of Greenberg Traurig LLP, to develop a Compliance Program detailing the actions that will be taken to help assure accuracy in future reporting. Mr. Glaser also will provide periodic reports to the Commission on Mr. Lynch's progress. The arrangement is scheduled to continue until July 15, 2011.

In line with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations, which provide that an organization is entitled to leniency if it enacts a compliance program in good faith, the Commission will waive $7,500 of the $10,000 if the company complies with all the provisions of the settlement agreement.

Legislative Receptions: The Commission charged several lobbying entities with violating the gift ban contained in the lobbying law when they held receptions for public officials and provided complimentary food and refreshments in excess of nominal value. The entities admitted the violation and each paid a civil penalty of $250.

The Commission forwarded the names of legislators and staff who attended the reception to the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC). We note, however, that in 2010, the LEC issued two unsigned opinions, essentially stating that legislators and their staff who attend such events do not violate the law, even though the organizations sponsoring the events have made that admission.

The Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 significantly changed the law by prohibiting public officials and State officers and employees from accepting gifts of more than nominal value, which the Commission has determined to be no more than the value of an ordinary cup of coffee. Gifts of $75 or less had been allowed in the past, and receptions such as these often were permissible and common.

Paul Wolfle: A former Examiner for the State Workers' Compensation Board, Paul Wolfle agreed to pay $3,000 to settle allegations that he appeared before his former agency as a representative of Gallagher Bassett of New York. Mr. Wolfle submitted six applications for workers' compensation insurance benefits for the company in 2007 within two years of leaving State service.

Clifton VanGuilder: A former employee of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Clifton VanGuilder allegedly violated the State Code of Ethics by soliciting the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to fund a post-employment position for himself at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL). DOE holds a license from DEC for its operations at KAPL.

Mr. VanGuilder, a former Environmental Engineer III, allegedly sought an illegal gift and an unwarranted privilege by asking DOE to fund the position for him. He also is charged with acting in a way that would lead to the impression that he was violating his public trust. Specifically, Mr. VanGuilder is charged with violating Public Officers Law Sections 73(5) and 74(3)(d), (f) and (h).

Bruce W. Sauter: A former employee of the State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS), Bruce W. Sauter was charged with violating the State's ethics law on four occasions when he appeared before his former agency within two years of leaving State service.

Mr. Sauter was a Chief Information Officer for ORPS prior to leaving State service. He is charged with appearing before his former agency on four occasions between October 12, 2006 and February 1, 2007.

2009 SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS/CIVIL ASSESSMENTS LOBBYING
NameViolation ChargedAmount Paid/OwedOutcomeDate
Independent Beer Distributors of New York Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $5000 Civil Assessment 2/3/2009
New York IKFD, LLC Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $1500 Civil Assessment 2/3/2009
ADG-SOHO Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $500 Settled 2/4/2009
Air Pegasus Heliport, Inc. Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $2500 Settled 4/28/2009
American Recycling Technologies, Inc. Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $500 Settled 4/28/2009
Raby Alexander, Group on behalf of Cybersettle Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $3000 Civil Assessment 4/28/2009
Raby Alexander, Group on behalf of Cybersettle Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $3000 Civil Assessment 4/28/2009
Raby Alexander, Group on behalf of Cybersettle Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $3000 Civil Assessment 4/28/2009
Independent Beer Wholesalers of NY Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $5000 Civil Assessment 6/12/2009
Star 3005 LLC Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $1000 Civil Assessment 6/12/2009
Uniformed EMS Officers Union, FDNY, Local 3621 Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $3500 Civil Assessment 6/12/2009
Aeralert US, LLC Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $1500 Civil Assessment 10/22/2009
Amardeep Singh on behalf of the Sikh Coalition, Inc. Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $3500 Civil Assessment 10/22/2009
Bolton St. Johns Inc. on behalf of Medtonic Sofamor Danek, USA, Inc. Legislative Law 1-A 1-e(a)(4), 1-h(b)(5) $500 Settled 10/22/2009
Crane Vacco & Crane Consulting on behalf of Delaware North Legislative Law 1-A 1-m $5000 Settled 10/22/2009
Crane Vacco on behalf of Cable NY Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $5000 Settled 10/22/2009
Ichud Mosdos Legislative Law 1-A 1-j $2500 Civil Assessment 10/22/2009
New York Trial Lawyers Association Legislative Law 1-A 1-m $250 Settled 10/22/2009
Powers Crane & Co on behalf of Delaware North Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $50,000 Settled 10/22/2009
Powers Crane & Co on behalf of Duane Reade Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $50,000 Settled 10/22/2009
Powers Crane & Co on behalf of NYS Laborer's PAC Legislative Law 1-A 1-h $50,000 Settled 10/22/2009
The Association of PBA's Legislative Law 1-A 1-m $250 Settled 10/22/2009
Uniformed Firefighters Association Legislative Law 1-A 1-m $250 Settled 10/22/2009
Bill Lynch Associates Inc. on behalf of Trustees of Columbia University of NYC Legislative Law 1-A 1-e(d) $2500 Settled 12/10/2009
Greater Rochester Association of Realtors Legislative Law 1-A 1-m $250 Settled 12/10/2009
NYS Association of Health Care Providers Legislative Law 1-m $250 Settled 12/10/2009
Patricia Lynch Association, Inc. Legislative Law 1-A 1-e(a)(4) $500 Settled 12/10/2009


2009 SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS/CIVIL ASSESSMENTS PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW
NameViolation ChargedAmount Paid/OwedOutcomeDate
Paul Wolfe Public Officers Law 73(8)(a) $3000 Settled 4/29/2009
Marie G. Dimicco Public Officers Law 73(8)(a) $25,000 Settled 5/4/2009
James Brunet Public Officers Law 73(8)(a)(i) $10,000 Settled 6/12/2009
Darren Dopp Public Officers Law 74(3)(d) and (h) $10,000 Civil Assessment 10/7/2009
Preston Felton Public Officers Law 74(3)(c)(d) and (h) $0 Settled 11/24/2009

Previous: Disclosure Requirements and On-line Applications | Top of Page | Next: Advisory Opinions