Former Loxahatchee Groves Councilman David DeMarois reached a negotiated settlement agreement to a charge of misuse of his position at a hearing with the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Attorney Ron Lantz spoke on behalf of DeMarois, whose settlement stemmed from an alleged attempt by him to coerce staff to rehire a former Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District employee who left when the district became dependent to the town.
“Mr. DeMarois believes it is in his best interest to avoid expense, time and litigation in this manner, and desires to resolve this issue, and he stipulates to the issues contained in the advocate’s probable cause recommendation,” Lantz said.
Pursuant to the negotiated settlement, DeMarois agreed to accept a letter of reprimand and pay a fine of $100. He also agreed that his actions were intentional.
DeMarois, a longtime former LGWCD supervisor, told the Town-Crier that he had supported former LGWCD employee Mike Walker getting his job back after he and other employees left when the district became dependent.
“He came over to the town, but he only lasted a week,” DeMarois said. “He and several others quit. We had five come over and four left. About four or five months after he left, he had talked to [former Councilman] Ron Jarriel, and Jarriel talked him into coming back. Jarriel had come before the council and told the council that Mike Walker was interested in coming back.”
After that, DeMarois, who was vice mayor at the time, said he met with Town Manager Jamie Titcomb, pointing out that Walker had a good record and had worked for the district for 25 years. Titcomb agreed to set up a meeting between Walker and Public Works Director Larry Peters.
“Larry Peters set up a date, and I went with him to that, and the meeting lasted about two hours,” he said. “I thought he would get hired from his record alone.”
DeMarois said he was not aware that he was making any ethics violations at the time, but the ethics commission determined that he had, based on depositions taken from Peters, Titcomb and Walker.
“They offered me a settlement,” he said. “They wanted $500… but I countered with $100. My attorney went in with $100, and I admitted that I had made an ethics violation. I did it, and I’m not apologizing for it. If I had it to do all over again, I’d probably do it the same way. I had nothing to gain from it. I was trying to help the people of Loxahatchee Groves.”
DeMarois is currently running in the March election, seeking a return to the council. He is challenging Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia.