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Suffolk sheriff pays fine for putting his niece on his payroll, having public workers do his errands

The state Ethics Commission announced today it's fined Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins for two violations of state conflict-of-interest law, related to a job he gave his niece and personal errands he had his subordinates do.

Tompkins paid the $12,300 "civil penalty," the commission reports.

The commission detailed the two violations of the state law that bars officials from using their positions to "obtain for themselves or others substantially valuable unwarranted privileges."

Shortly after his wife's death in October 2016, Tompkins' adult niece moved into his residence in Massachusetts to help care for his two minor children. In November 2016, Tompkins used his position as Sheriff to create a $45,000 per year position in the Sheriff's Department's External Affairs Division for his niece, which facilitated her remaining in Massachusetts to assist him with childcare. The position was not posted. The Division's chief had not requested that any such position be filled, nor had she interviewed Tompkins' niece or reviewed her resume. Until resigning at the end of 2018, Tompkins' niece routinely left work during normal business hours one or two times per week with his approval to transport one of his children.

The commission continued:

On multiple occasions during 2014-2022, Tompkins asked subordinate Sheriff's Department employees other than his niece to assist him personally by caring for and transporting his children and by doing other personal errands for him during their paid public work hours. Tompkins' requests violated the conflict of interest law's prohibition against public employees requesting or receiving anything of substantial value that is not authorized by law and is given to them because of their official position. Tompkins' subordinates assisted him with his personal matters because of his position as Sheriff, their assistance was substantially valuable, and his request and receipt of their assistance was not authorized by law.

This violated the same provision of state law as hiring his niece, the commission said.

This is Tompkins's second ethics fine. In 2015, he paid a $2,500 fine for trying to strong arm store owners to remove campaign signs for his opponent, Doug Bennett.



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The nanny niece resigned in 2018, after two years on the public payroll at $45,000/year. How can this possibly take five years to adjudicate, and why is the fine only $12,300? Not even counting all the subsequent malfeasance, with the improper use of employees and politicking, seems like he's getting off way too easy. Especially since the "Ethics" Commission kindly held off on announcing the "punishment" after his reelection.

I assume he can't be fired (though he was originally appointed to the office by Governor Patrick), but can he be recalled, or (just imagine!) shamed into resigning?


Don't blame me, I wrote in Angela Davis.


It's Suffolk County Ethics after all.


Make $90,000 + 2 years of work experience for your family member and only pay $12300? Cheaper than college.