Collingwood fined $2,500 for conflict of interest by state Ethics Commission

SHEFFIELD — Jeffrey Collingwood, a member of the town’s Conservation Commission, has agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for violating the state ethics law. According to Gerry Tuoti, a public information officer for the state Ethics Commission, Collingwood violated Section 17 of interest law.

Collingwood was found in violation of the conflict of interest law by representing a private client before the town while serving on the Conservation Commission.  Section 17 is based on the principle that “a municipal employee owes a duty of loyalty to the municipality that he or she serves.”

It was later clarified that, “Because of this duty, a municipal employee generally may not represent or do paid work for a private party in a matter involving the municipality.  In a disposition agreement approved by the State Ethics Commission on December 20, 2018, Collingwood admitted to violating the conflict of interest law, waived his right to contest the Commission’s findings, and agreed to pay the civil penalty,” according to the state notice.

Collingwood is a civil engineer who was hired in early March 2015 by fellow Sheffield resident George Soudant to help him obtain permits for work on his property on Main Street in town. That summer, Collingwood was appointed to the town’s conservation commission and that governing body administers the Wetland Protection Act and is responsible for local permitting. Soudant’s property has wetlands on it.