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Boston City Councilor Arroyo admits to violating the law by representing brother in civil suit

BOSTON — Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo has admitted to violating the conflict of interest law by continuing to represent his brother in a civil lawsuit against him after he became a city official.

According to the State Ethics Commission, Arroyo entered an appearance as an attorney on behalf of his brother in the civil lawsuit prior to becoming a City Councilor in January 2020.

However, after being sworn into office, Arroyo did not withdraw from the case and instead continued to represent as his attorney, including in the deposition of a City of Boston employee.

“Arroyo’s representation of his brother in the lawsuit involving the City of Boston while serving as a City Councilor violated the conflict of interest law’s prohibition against municipal employees, including elected officials, acting as agent or attorney for anyone other than the municipality in connection with matters in which the municipality is a party or has a direct and substantial interest,” according to state officials.

The law required Arroyo to cease acting as attorney for his brother in the lawsuit when he became a City Councilor.

“While an appointed municipal employee may, with the approval of their appointing authority, act as an agent or attorney for their immediate family member in a matter involving the municipality, this exemption is not available to elected municipal employees like Arroyo,” said state officials.

The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission contacted Arroyo twice in August 2022 regarding legal concerns raised by his representation of his brother in the lawsuit.

“Councilor Arroyo immediately began the process of withdrawal by seeking legal counsel as to his legal and professional responsibilities to his client regarding his withdrawal,” according to Arroyo’s attorney Zachary Lown.

A motion to withdraw from the lawsuit was filed on November 18, 2022, which was allowed on February 18, 2023, removing Arroyo’s name from the record.

“Councilor Arroyo then moved to withdraw before the next scheduled court date and five months prior to any finding by the State Ethics Commission,” said Lown.

Arroyo signed a Disposition Agreement in which he admitted to the violation and paid a $3,000 civil penalty, according to officials.

“Nothing Arroyo did as an attorney on this matter negatively impacted the City or its interests, Arroyo’s client and the City are co-defendants, nor did the City ever express any concern to Councilor Arroyo about his legal representation,” said Lown. “We are grateful to the State Ethics Commission for working with us to resolve this matter.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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