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Ethics panel brings case against Groveland official

The State Ethics Commission has ordered longtime Groveland Selectwoman Bette Gorski to defend charges that she used her position in an attempt to get her son restored to active duty after he was placed on administrative leave by the chief of the Groveland Police Department.

The commission plans to schedule a public hearing within 90 days, according to spokeswoman Marisa Donelan.

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Gorski declined comment, except to say, “I look forward to having my say in the future.”

In a prepared statement, Police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz said: “My primary focus is on the operation of the police department and serving the residents of Groveland. Unfortunately, there are times when I have to deal with distractions such as this. I would ask people to have patience, and the truth will prevail.”

Kirmelewicz placed Officer Eric Gorski on paid administrative leave on Nov. 7, 2011. About two months later, Gorski was placed on sick leave. While confidentiality rules preclude him from discussing personnel moves, Kirmelewicz said that the action was not disciplinary in nature.

While Gorski was paid during the leaves, he was ineligible to earn overtime pay or work on paid police details. He was returned to active duty on July 13, 2012.

According to the Ethics Commission report, Bette Gorski contacted Deputy Chief Jeffrey Gillen “and indicated she wanted Deputy Chief Gillen to fix it.” She spoke with Gillen by phone four times — in person, at the station, and at a Georgetown restaurant.

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In a December conversation with Gillen, Gorski allegedly asked, “Aren’t your [Gillen and Kirmelewicz’s] contract renewals coming up this year?” The report states she repeated a similar statement to Gillen in January.

During a March 14 Board of Selectmen meeting held in executive session to discuss Kirmelewicz’s contract, Gorski expressed her displeasure with the chief about the handling of the situation. According to the Ethics Commission report, Kirmelewicz asked, “Why do you want to take my job away?”

Gorski reportedly countered, “Why are you ruining [her son’s] name and his reputation and his livelihood?”

The report alleges that Gorski violated four sections of state conflict of interest laws, by acting on her son’s behalf in trying to restore her son to active duty; by participating as a board member in decisions involving her son’s employment; by using her position to attempt to obtain for her son the unwarranted privilege of being restored to active duty; and, according to the report, by acting “in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to conclude that her son could improperly influence or unduly enjoy Gorski’s favor in the performance of her official duties, creating the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

“Because of the way I was treated, I was forced to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission,” said Kirmelewicz.

The Ethics Commission issues fines and sanctions against those found to be in violation of conflict of interest laws.

Bette Gorski has been a selectwoman since 2000. Eric Gorski has worked for the Groveland Police Department since 1997. According to the department’s website, he is the police department’s evidence control officer and the use of force/defensive tactics instructor.

David Rattigan can be reached at DRattigan.Globe@gmail.­com.

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