Ex-game agency of­fi­cial gets $75K ethics fine over gas deals

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Mark Scol­foro

HAR­RIS­BURG » Penn­syl­va­nia’s gov­ern­ment ethics agency said Tues­day a retired state Game Com­mis­sion of­fi­cial who had once been con­sid­ered for the agency’s top job agreed to pay a $75,000 ethics fine over his side busi­ness help­ing land own­ers ne­go­ti­ate nat­u­ral gas drilling leases.

The State Ethics Com­mis­sion said the penalty was im­posed as part of a con­sent agree­ment with Wil­liam Capouillez, who in 2014 was among sev­eral peo­ple be­ing looked at to be­come the hunt­ing agency’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

His job as di­rec­tor of the Bu­reau of Wildlife Habi­tat Man­age­ment in­volved over­sight of gas leases for state game lands, while he moon­lighted by run­ning a busi­ness that helped landown­ers make deals with some of the same drilling com­pa­nies.

The ethics com­mis­sion said he im­prop­erly re­ceived a valu­able ben­e­fit by virtue of his state job, but noted he had in­formed his higher ups of his out­side work.

Capouillez’s lawyer, Bob Davis, said the com­mis­sion orig­i­nally sought mil­lions of dol­lars in fines and resti­tu­tion. “It is a van­ish­ing per­cent­age of what they said they were af­ter,” Davis said. “There are times when it’s just smarter to just bite the bul­let and get it over with.”

Capouillez spent three years at the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion be­fore go­ing to work for the Game Com­mis­sion in 1993. His salary was $84,000 when he retired in May 2015.

The ethics com­mis­sion said the statute of lim­i­ta­tions was a “crit­i­cal fac­tor” in the case, re­strict­ing what of his con­duct it could re­view and how much of a penalty it could or­der.

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