Age of the cases and ongoing federal investigation cited as reasons to dismiss the matters

The State Ethics Commission approved a Joint Motion to Dismiss the Proceedings in the adjudicatory matters involving Merrimack Special Education Collaborative employees John Barranco and Richard W. McDonough.

Both adjudicatory proceedings were initiated in August 2011 by the Commission's Enforcement Division filing Orders to Show Cause formally alleging that Barranco and McDonough violated G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law.

As to Barranco, the Order alleged that, as Executive Director for the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative, a municipal agency, or as Executive Director of the private Merrimack Education Center, exercising control over the Collaborative's activities, Barranco violated the conflict of interest law by arranging for McDonough, a lobbyist for the Center, to have a position at the Collaborative in which McDonough did almost no work, but which enabled him to receive public pension benefits to which he was not entitled.

As to McDonough, the Order alleged that he violated the conflict of interest law by misusing his official position with the Collaborative to receive public pension benefits to which he was not entitled.

In dismissing the cases against both Barranco and McDonough, the Commission cited the existence of an ongoing related federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office. As to McDonough, the Commission also noted that McDonough is in federal prison after being convicted on unrelated charges and that he is not scheduled to be released until January, 2018.

In the Final Order issued for each proceeding, the Commission noted that the allegations underlying the federal investigation were first made public in 2011 and, therefore, concluded, "[w]hile the Commission may stay rather than dismiss a pending adjudicatory proceeding at the request of another agency, the Commission believes that it should dismiss rather than stay these proceedings because, given the length of time that already has passed, further delays at the request of another agency are not consistent with the interests of justice."