Mar 6, 2023 - News

Suffolk Sheriff Steve Tompkins fined for having niece, other employees run errands on the job

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins. Photo: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins paid a $12,300 fine for creating a position on his staff for his niece and having her and other employees run personal errands while they were on the job, according to the state Ethics Commission.

Why it matters: The state’s conflict of interest law forbids public officials from using their position for their own personal benefit.

  • That includes child care and help with errands on the public dime, according to a disposition agreement between Tompkins and the state.

Tompkins didn’t respond to Axios’ requests for comment via his spokesperson, Peter Van Delft.

Zoom in: Tompkins created a position for his niece in his department’s external affairs division, according to the commission.

  • She got the job in 2016 without submitting a resume or being interviewed, and Tompkins didn’t seek other applicants for the position.

Details: His niece, who was not named, earned a salary of $45,000 between November 2016 and January 2018. She was in charge of writing a newsletter, posting social media content and coordinating community events.

  • She left work “once or twice a week” to pick up Tompkins’ daughter with his approval, per the disposition.

The ethics commission says he had other employees pick up his children during normal business hours as far back as 2014 and as recently as last year, per the disposition.

Flashback: Tompkins paid a $2,500 fine to the state in 2015 for violating the conflict of interest law.

  • At the time, the state said he had used his position as sheriff to pressure store owners to remove campaign signs for Douglas Bennett, his opponent in the 2014 sheriff election.

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