Ny Firm Pays $10K State Ethics Penalty To Settle Ct Case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A New York-based maritime company has agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty to Connecticut regulators who say the firm violated the state's ethics rules by providing gifts to employees and a board member of the quasi-public Connecticut Port Authority, including NHL tickets, food, drinks and an overnight stay at a Greenwich club.

The Office of State Ethics, which announced the settlement Tuesday, said Seabury PFRA, LLC, in 2017 gave gifts totaling $800 to an unnamed port authority employee, the person's spouse, and an unnamed port authority board member. The office said it occurred when the company was “seeking to develop a business advisory relationship” with the port authority.

In 2019, when Seabury had a consulting contract with the port authority and was seeking additional contracts, the company provided gifts totaling about $2,300 to an unnamed port authority employee and the person's spouse, as well as two other employees, according to the settlement. The list of gifts included food, drinks and a leather handbag and the hockey tickets.

“Private companies that seek to engage state and quasi-public agencies for contracts must understand that fostering good will with state officials and employees cannot involve provision of impermissible gifts," Office of State Ethics Executive Director Peter Lewandowski said in a written statement.

The port authority was created in 2014 and is responsible for marketing and coordinating development at Connecticut's three deep-water ports.

In the settlement documents, which were agreed upon and signed by Seabury's acting chief financial officer, the maritime company noted that it was reimbursed for the cost of the hockey tickets and certain food and drinks. But state ethics officials noted that those items were not reimbursed within 30 days of receipts, violating state regulations. Also, other gifts from Seabury were not reimbursed by the recipients, the agency said.