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Former Norwood School Committee chairman penalized in ethics case

Posted by Natalie Feulner  November 13, 2012 12:00 PM

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A former Norwood School Committee Chairman has been required to pay $5,000 to the state and $511.76 to the town of Norwood after being charged with taking food-service equipment from the former high school building for his own use.

According to a news release, the State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement today in which former Chairman Mark Joseph admitted to violating the state’s conflict-of-interest law by having school employees transport the equipment to his restaurant.

The law prohibits any municipal employee from knowingly using or attempting to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions to available to similarly situated individuals.

The $511.76 he paid to the town was a reimbursement of the costs associated with using public school custodians and equipment to move the equipment, the press release said.

The old Norwood High School building was scheduled to be demolished in June of last year. School employees were told to use color-coded labels to mark equipment that would be moved to other districts or donated to town agencies.

According to the disposition agreement, Joseph reportedly contacted school administrators prior to demolition to ask if he could donate the equipment to the Norwood food pantry.

However, after tagging the equipment, which included warming tables, serving tables, and milk coolers, with “Mark Joseph-Food Pantry,” he asked six custodians to transport the equipment to his restaurant, “The Take Away," the agreement said.

None of the equipment was brought to the pantry, which distributes canned goods and does not serve warm or cold foods.

The disposition agreement said that after the superintendent learned about the equipment removal, he told Joseph to return the items the next day, which required two additional custodians to work overtime and a school-owned truck.

Joseph told the commission that he planned to give any equipment the food pantry did not want to another charity; however, he later admitted that he had not contacted either group before moving the items, the agreeement said.

He resigned from the School Committee about one week after the incident.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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