A former city employee who worked at South Park Community Center was fined $3,000 for violating the Seattle Ethics Code.
A former city employee at South Park Community Center violated the Seattle Ethics Code when she used her official position in dealings with family members and a private youth-baseball club, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) ruled Wednesday.
Carmen Martinez, who worked in the Parks and Recreation department, was fined $3,000 for three separate infractions.
Martinez, a recreation-program specialist assigned to the community center in Southwest Seattle until she was fired in October 2014, was acting as a city employee in July 2013 when she submitted a request for $900 from the nonprofit South Park Associated Recreation Council to an uncle, Gilbert Aguilar, for “instruction,” SEEC charging papers say. The council made the payment.
Martinez had used her city email the month before to verify to a Kent Municipal Court probation officer that a nephew, Jeffrey Creamer, had performed community service at the community center, the papers say.
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In January 2013, Martinez had applied for affiliation with the Major League Baseball (MLB) Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities charity program using the community center’s address and phone number, the council’s nonprofit tax-identification number and her own city email, the papers say.
The youth-baseball team admitted into the MLB program, however, was a private club called Bandidos Baseball, according to the papers.
In September 2013, Martinez requested a $2,322 reimbursement from the MLB program for “tournament expenses” related to a trip to California, again using the community center’s address and the council’s tax number, the papers say. She asked that a check be written to “Seattle RBI Baseball.”
When the MLB program issued the check in October 2013, Martinez received it and deposited it into a private Bandidos bank account, according to the papers.
The Bandidos Baseball website lists Martinez as team director and Aguilar as general manager.
Efforts to reach Martinez by phone and email Wednesday afternoon were unsuccessful.
The SEEC charged her with performing official duties in which it “would appear to a reasonable person … that her judgment was impaired because of the familial relationship.” It also charged her with using her position for what was — or at least what appeared to be — a noncity purpose.
Martinez, who in 2010 received the city’s annual Latino Heritage Award from then-Mayor Mike McGinn for her work in South Park, contested the charges at a hearing Wednesday.
“She said she was acting in the name of the city for what she considered good purposes, but it was not authorized,” SEEC Chairman Bruce Carter said.
The SEEC has not requested that Martinez pay any restitution for payments her uncle and the baseball club received and has not referred the matter for criminal prosecution, as it sometimes does, Executive Director Wayne Barnett said.
SEEC fines range up to more than $10,000 but average roughly $1,000, Barnett said.