NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 3, 2014

Ethics panel fines Rowley man $1,000

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — ROWLEY — A retired Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department captain who owns property in Boston was fined $1,000 recently for demanding a rent increase while accompanied by an armed and uniformed correctional officer, according to the State Ethics Commission.

Alesandro Basile of Rowley recently admitted he violated a conflict of interest law when he approached tenants in his East Boston apartment in 2010 and demanded a $100 rent increase. Both Basile, who was shift commander at the Suffolk County Jail until his retirement in 2012, and the officer who accompanied him were wearing sheriff’s department uniforms and were carrying firearms, pepper spray and batons.

The Ethics Commission released the results of its investigation to the public on Friday.

According to the State Ethics Commission, in early fall 2010, Basile rented one of the apartments to a married couple who spoke Spanish and limited English. In November 2010, while working as the shift commander at the Suffolk County Jail in Boston, Basile asked a correctional officer who spoke Spanish if he would drive Basile to the apartment building during a shift break and serve as a translator while Basile spoke with his tenants.

Basile and the correctional officer took a marked cruiser to the apartment building. The correctional officer was visibly armed with a gun, pepper spray and baton. During a 30-minute conversation with his tenants, Basile, with the correctional officer translating, demanded that the couple pay an additional $100 per month in rent because another family member was staying with them in the apartment. The couple agreed to pay the additional rent. The next day, Basile asked the same correctional officer to call the couple and tell them there would not be a rent increase.

According to the state’s conflict of interest law, state employees are prohibited from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself unwarranted privileges which are of substantial value and which are not properly available to similarly situated individuals.

“By arriving at his apartment building in a marked SCSO (Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office) cruiser, and demanding a rent increase from his tenants while in SCSO uniform, and while accompanied by a uniformed, visibly armed correctional officer, Basile used his SCSO position to intimidate his tenants into agreeing to an increase in their rent. According to the agreement, the demand for additional rent was an unwarranted privilege, given the inherently exploitive nature of the circumstances in which it was made,” the complaint reads.