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National Grid fined $25,000 for giving free meals, golf rounds to state employees

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National Grid will pay a $25,000 fine issued by the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics to settle cases involving employees who received and gave improper gifts to state employees, including rounds of golf and meals, the agency announced Thursday.

The utility has settled the same charges made by the state Public Service Commission in July 2012, when it paid $1.7 million handing out illegal gifts to violate Public Service Law.

The joint commission’s settlement found National Grid was responsible for gifts totaling more than $7,000 given to state Department of Public Service employees from the Office of Electric, Gas and Water Safety between 2002 and 2010. The department is the administrative-service branch of the state Public Service Commission, which regulates state utilities.

Under the settlement with the joint commission, National Grid agreed to provide more annual ethics training for employees over the next four years and to cooperate fully with related investigations. Utility spokesman Patrick D. Stella said the gift violations were first discovered by the company in the summer of 2010 during an internal review. National Grid immediately conducted a full internal investigation at the time and notified state authorities.

“The internal investigation led to an updated training program on the company’s ethics training programs,” Mr. Stella said in an email. “We are a better company, top-to-bottom, from the actions we took following the discovery. We look forward to deepening our relationships in the communities in which we live and work.”

Former DPS employees Joseph Klesin and Carlos Ortiz paid fines of $1,500 and $1,000, respectively, for accepting free meals and rounds of golf from National Grid. Both resigned in early 2012 during the joint commission’s investigation.

In a separate settlement announced by the joint commission, DPS employee Steven Blaney was fined $1,500 for sharing a draft investigative report with a consultant for another utility that was under investigation. That investigation concerned a 2008 gas explosion in Queens involving a consultant working for the utility that supplied gas.

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