Plymouth County pest control contract suit settled
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement on Friday with a former Plymouth County commissioner and a pest control company resolving allegations of attempted bid rigging.
Timothy McMullen, the former Plymouth County commissioner, and Edward Burgess, the owner of Capeway Pest Control, will each pay the state $5,000 in penalties and $2,500 in costs. In addition, McMullen and Burgess agreed to not engage in future unlawful bidding practices. The consent decrees were filed in Plymouth County Superior Court on Friday along with a complaint. The allegations and case resulted from a report in 2010 by the Office of the Inspector General.
"The public procurement process is essential both to competition for government contracts and to open government," Coakley said. "Companies and public officials alike must understand that agreements to subvert that process are unacceptable and diminish public trust."
In January 2010, Plymouth County put its pest control contract out for quotes for seven county buildings. The county received three quotes. Because Capeway Pest's quote was not the lowest, it was ineligible by state law to win the contract. Two of the quotes were for more than $5,000 while the third was for less than $5,000.
In the days before the vote on the contract by the Board of Commissioners, Burgess allegedly spoke with McMullen on multiple occasions. During at least one of the phone conversations, McMullen allegedly gave non-public information by telling Burgess that the company did not submit the lowest quote.
Capeway Pest then used the information to submit a new quote exactly matching the previous low quote. Before the vote on the pest control contract was made, the alleged attempt to subvert the process was uncovered and the original low quote was accepted.