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National Grid, former state workers pay fines

National Grid USA and two former employees of the state Department of Public of Service have paid fines to settle charges of improper gift giving following an investigation last year.

National Grid paid a $25,000 fine, and the two former DPS employees, Joseph Klesin and Carlos Ortiz, paid fines of $1,500 and $1,000, respectively, said the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the state ethics watchdog. Both resigned their positions.

Klesin didn't return a call seeking comment, and Ortiz couldn't be reached.

The fines stemmed from an investigation last year by the state inspector general and findings by the commission. They said the two employees accepted rounds of golf and meals from National Grid in violation of state ethics laws.

National Grid last year paid $1.7 million to settle a related case brought by Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott. The Department of Public Service is the administrative arm of the Public Service Commission, which regulates state utilities.

According to the settlement agreement with the Joint Commission, National Grid, a state-registered lobbyist, gave gifts of more than $7,000 to employees in the department's office of electric, gas and water safety. The gift giving took place between 2002 and 2010. National Grid employees who were responsible for the gift giving weren't named.

In addition to paying the fine, National Grid has agreed to cooperate with any "related investigation" into the gifts, and to give employees annual ethics training for the next four years, the commission said.

National Grid discovered the gift-giving after an internal audit, and reported the improprieties to state regulators, according to the commission.

The company said it has "proactively cooperated with all agencies," and that the internal probe led to an updated ethics training program.

"We are a better company, top to bottom, from the actions we took following the discovery," spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said "We look forward to deepening our relationships in the communities in which we live and work."

Joint Commission spokesman John Milgrim declined to comment.

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