I-Team: Law firm to investigate building official also represents him
FREETOWN, Mass. —
The Freetown Board of Selectmen decided to hand over the details of an I-Team investigation and other complaints to a Boston law firm.
But some are calling the move a huge conflict of interest because the firm of Kopelman and Paige, now charged with investigating the building inspector, also represents both him and the town in a court case.
About 60 people crowded the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night in Freetown, and building inspector Paul Bourgeois was the main reason why. The board was prompted to take a look at the building inspector's actions by both an I-Team investigation and taxpayer complaints.
Business owners and residents in town came forward telling the I-Team that Bourgeois bullied them, cost them money, and was too close the contractors he's paid to supervise.
In his own side business, Bourgeois buys and sells real estate. The I-Team discovered in one case, the building inspector made a $160,000 profit flipping a piece of land that he bought from the wife of a Freetown builder.
Town residents told the I-Team they hoped for an independent investigation.
The I-Team asked Chairman of the Board Jean Fox whether she thought this was a direct conflict of interest. She said the firm does expect to use a third-party investigator, but wouldn't say if that investigator works for Kopelman and Paige or has no connection to the firm at all.