Former Hadley, Mass., Selectman Fined For Ethics Violations

Mar 25, 2019

A former Hadley, Massachusetts, selectman has agreed to a $5,000 fine from the state ethics board after multiple conflict-of-interest violations.

The Massachusetts Ethics Commission said Donald Pipczynski threatened to have the Select Board take action against the Young Men's Club of Hadley when he found out it had revoked his membership in 2016.

According to documents from the commission, he tried to enter the club, and found out his key card didn't work. The bartender buzzed him in.

Pipczynski is then to have said, “If I’ve been kicked out, I’m going to be the second Select Board member in town to have a problem with this club, and you’re going to have a major issue on your hands.”

Disposition Agreement Between State Ethics Commission and Donald Pipczynski by New England Public Radio on Scribd

The Select Board is responsible for renewing the club’s liquor and entertainment licenses.

"Mr. Pipczynski's words, invoking his position as a member of the Select Board, were threatening words in an effort to regain his membership in the club," said Gerry Tuoti, a spokesman for the ethics commission.

In the case of two other complaints, Pipczynski voted against the Select Board, referring the matters to the ethics commission. Participation in those votes — since he was directly involved — also consisted of violations.

Pipczynski is alleged to have used his Select Board badge or threatened to use his position as a selectman during private disputes.

In all of the cases, the ethics commission said that Pipcyznski's actions violated laws that prohibit public officials from using their positions for personal gain: A reduced rate on a pavilion rental at the Young Men's Club if he could have had his membership restored, and trying to avoid ethics fines by voting against sending his matters to the ethics panel.

Pipczynski said he never did anything to try to gain anything. He said he regrets his actions, but mentioned there"s some sadness, too.

"In all of my life, I probably contributed well over $100,000 in work and time and everything to the town," Pipczynski said. "My going out present is that I have to pay a $5,000 fine.

Pipczynski said part of the reason for settling the matter had to do with money, both from legal costs and the maximum possible fines he was facing. 

"The three violations would have had a total of $30,000," Pipczynski said. "My attorney, if I went to fight it in a trial case, he said it would cost us another $15,000."

Pipczynski resigned from the Hadley Select Board in 2017.