Longtime Wellesley Fire Department Chief Rick DeLorie has paid a $10,000 civil penalty after acknowledging to the state Ethics Commission a conflict of interest related to the town’s hiring of his son as a firefighter in 2019.
DeLorie, who grew up locally and has been Wellesley’s fire chief since 2009, informed the town’s Board of Selectmen in mid-2018 that he would not be involved in the review and selection process among new firefighter candidates, which included his son.
But as the Ethics Commission’s disposition agreement lays out, DeLorie did insert himself into the hiring process after his son didn’t make the initial selection team’s cut.
According to the Commission, which began an inquiry into the matter in January of 2020: “After DeLorie was informed that the interview panel did not select his son, he criticized the panel’s selections and instructed the assistant chief to halt the hiring process while he conferred with members of the Board of Selectmen. DeLorie then contacted the chair and vice chair of the Board of Selectmen and criticized the hiring process and the candidates selected and praised the qualifications of his son and another unsuccessful candidate. In emails to the vice chair, DeLorie expressed concern that the interview panel did not consider the community involvement of the candidates. The chair reminded DeLorie that DeLorie had recused himself from the hiring process and needed to stay recused from the process. DeLorie, however, emailed the vice chair a scan of the front page of a 2003 local newspaper showing DeLorie and his son, then age 10, helping to serve Thanksgiving meals to seniors as an example of his son’s community involvement.”
After a second round of interviews, DeLorie’s son was among those recommended for appointment. The chief was said to seek the Board of Selectmen”s support, only to be reminded that he needed to recuse himself.
DeLorie’s son was then appointed following a third round of interviews after another spot on the firefighter roster opened up. The Wellesley Fire Department roster lists 5 members with the last name DeLorie. It’s not been uncommon in Wellesley, or beyond, for multiple family members to work for public service departments.
The conflict of interest law, however, generally prohibits public employees from participating in matters in which they or members of their immediate family have a financial interest.
We reached out to Chief DeLorie for comment. He is out of the office this week.
The Ethics Commission, citing statute, declined to answer questions regarding this case.