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The state Ethics Commission case alleging that a former Arlington official was involved in conflicts of interest is expected to be argued in August, not in June, as previously scheduled.

Eron L.A. Hackshaw, presiding officer in the case involving Michael F. Byrne, the town's former inspectional services director, denied a defense motion seeking an indefinite stay. "However, under the circumstances," the May 23 order says, "a reasonable continuance of the proceedings is warranted to accommodate respondent’s scheduled neuropsychological evaluation."

Neurological evaluation requested

At the May 16 hearing, Byrne’s attorney, Daniel K. Gelb, of Gelb & Gelb LLP in Beverly, asked for a stay pending results of a neurological evaluation of Byrne, which Gelb said he believes may indicate that Byrne is unfit to contribute to his own defense.

Two days later, the commission's attorney, Candies Pruitt, filed supplemental documentation, as agreed at the hearing.

After review, Hackshaw denied the defense motion and issued this order May 23:

1. All outstanding discovery responses are to be filed on or before July 12.

2. The adjudicatory hearing previously scheduled for June 5-8 shall be held Aug. 21-25.

3. The parties are to consult with each other to submit a proposed protective order to Hackshaw as it relates to the respondent’s May 18 supplemental filing.

4. The parties are to consult with each other as to whether they wish to participate in the commission’s mediation program and report their intentions at their earliest opportunity. The commission’s mediation policy is available at here >> 

5. On or before June 6, the parties are to submit to Hackshaw a status report regarding the possibility of a settlement. The deadlines in this order can be rescheduled only after a written motion for good cause. 

As reported by YourArlington in January, the commission’s enforcement division has alleged that Byrne, who retired from town employment in 2021, created fraudulent permits for plumbing work his company performed without permits, inspected his own company’s work, issued certificates of occupancy for properties at which his company had performed work and issued a certificate of occupancy for a property owned by a developer who had lent him money.

“This is not something that is being staged for the purposes of this proceeding,” Gelb said at the May 16 hearing. “[Byrne] has had brain surgery. This is not something that’s just coming out of the ether because he has a state Ethics Commission proceeding against him.”

According to medical documents that the defense submitted to the commission, Byrne suffers from hydrocephalus, a serious condition caused by the buildup of fluid in the brain. Gelb said May 16 that Byrne had undergone surgery at an unspecified date to attempt to treat the condition -- a procedure that Gelb said resulted in “complications,” on which he did not elaborate.

Damage to brain tissue as a result of hydrocephalus can cause memory loss or loss of reasoning skills. Given the potential for those symptoms, the defense argued that the results of Byrne’s planned evaluation in the first two weeks of June must be considered before he stands trial, to prevent the possibility of having to delay the trial further or to amend Byrne’s testimony after the fact.

May 17, 2023: Defense requests delay in case of ex-inspections chief, citing brain ailment


This news summary was published Wednesday, May 31, 2023, based on information from Gerry Tuoti, senior public information officer of the state Ethics Commission.