Supervisor found guilty of unethical behavior

County Ethics board proposes revision of ethics law to include elected officials

— The Essex County Ethics Board found Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee guilty of unethical behavior on May 24 after an investigation into his use of town fuel for a personal vehicle.

The board investigation into the March 27 incident in which Ferebee fueled his personal vehicle with town gas had been under investigation by the board since it was first reported to them in early April. The incident was reported by Keene residents Donna Combs on April 6 and by Robin Lawrence on April 11.

As a penalty for Ferebee’s actions, the Ethics Board will submit a letter of reprimand in his personal records. The board found his actions “undermined the public’s confidence in the government” and found him in violation of conflict of interest standards, saying, “No municipal officer or employee may use or permit the use of municipal resources for personal or private purposes.”

Combs said she was satisfied with the Ethics Board’s decision.

Ferebee had confirmed that on Jan. 10, he was traveling on Route 73 en route to the Keene town office. Just before he got there, Ferebee said his vehicle began stalling because of a lack of fuel. He was able to get his vehicle to the lower town sand pit, where the town fuel tanks are located. At the pump, he filled his vehicle with 14 gallons of gas.

During a town board meeting that night, Ferebee shared what had happened with councilmen in executive session. He was told to reimburse the town for the gas, which he did the next day, paying Town Clerk Ellen Estes $2.98 per gallon — the cost of gasoline paid by the town on state contract — for a total of $43.50.

When Combs brought the matter to the attention of the Ethics Board, she said she was not satisfied with how the Keene Town Board handled the incident.

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