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The hearing for retired Town of Arlington Inspectional Services Director Michael F. Byrne has been set for four days in early June, following a decision made at a state Ethics Commission prehearing March 2, a commission representative has said.

The prehearing was to have been viewable remotely, but accurate information about how to connect was not widely shared.

Byrne, then owner of locally based firm Trademark Plumbing and who served as director of the town's Inspectional Services Department from 1997 to 2021, was charged in a commission complaint filed in December. The charging document accuses Byrne of having violated the Massachusetts conflict-of-interest law by allowing his plumbing company to do work in Arlington without permits or inspections.

Plumbing work without permits alleged

According to the commission, Byrne allowed Trademark Plumbing to perform plumbing work in Arlington without permits at 37 locations and without inspections at eight locations between 2016 and 2020.

Additionally, the commission alleged that while Byrne was serving as inspectional services director, he created eight fraudulent plumbing permits for work that Trademark Plumbing had performed without permits.

The commission had scheduled a public hearing about the allegations against Byrne for May 7, in which they could impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the conflict-of-interest law.

During the March 2 prehearing, Byrne’s attorney, Richard M. Gelb, offered a motion to extend the hearing to early June. Attorney Candies Pruitt, representing the commission, immediately opposed the motion to extend scheduling order deadlines. Pruitt’s motion was overruled, and the hearing then was set to take place from June 5 through 8, beginning at 10 a.m. each day.

Following the prehearing, the parties agreed to serve or file all outstanding discovery responses by April 19. Additionally, the parties agreed to file all motions before April 28.

Furthermore, any opposition to motions are to be filed on or before May 5, and any replies are to be filed on or before May 8, but only with the permission of the presiding officer, the prehearing ruled.

Finally, the prehearing determined that all other provisions in the scheduling order are to remain in full force and effect, and the parties are to consult with each other to draft and submit a proposed protective order to the presiding officer.

Source for 2-hour prehearing

Providing information about the two-hour hearing was Gary Tuoti, the commission's public-information representative.

Tuoti provided YourArlington with a copy of the order from the March 2 prehearing.

Neither the general public nor YourArlington were able to view the session.

As to the lack of access, Tuoti wrote that the session "unfortunately was inadvertently hosted using a different Zoom link than the one that initially appeared on [the commission] website. Once we learned of this issue, we corrected the Zoom link posted on the website as quickly as possible."

YourArlington had not been told about the switch and therefore reported the incorrect Zoom link.

Jan. 12, 2023: Ex-inspectional chief Byrne violated conflict law, Ethics Commission alleges


This news summary was published Wednesday, March 8, 2023, based on written information provided by Gerry Tuoti, representing the state Ethics Commission.