Northeast Times

Former CLIP employees will repay victims more than $100K

Nine former city work­ers who ran­sacked sev­er­al homes got the bill for their crimes last week. The men, all former em­ploy­ees of the Com­munity Life Im­prove­ment Pro­gram, must pay their vic­tims more than $108,000.

Most of the de­fend­ants and their at­tor­neys ap­peared be­fore Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd on Fri­day to hear — and agree to — a list of what they owe. Some of their vic­tims as well as de­fend­ants’ re­l­at­ives were in Byrd’s courtroom in the Crim­in­al Justice Cen­ter at 13th and Fil­bert streets.

Some will pay more than oth­ers be­cause some were in­volved in more crimes than oth­ers. After a grand jury had in­vest­ig­ated, the nine were ar­res­ted in late 2009 on charges they had stolen money and per­son­al prop­erty from five homes — in Somer­ton, Ta­cony, Tor­res­dale, Frank­ford and Kens­ing­ton — from mid-2006 through Janu­ary 2008. 

On Fri­day, Byrd signed an or­der re­ques­ted by As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Shar­on Piper to tap in­to the de­fend­ants’ city pen­sions. If the city moves to seize the pen­sions of the former mu­ni­cip­al em­ploy­ees, Byrd ordered that the money be used to make resti­tu­tion to the five vic­tims named in court Fri­day.

One of the de­fend­ants’ law­yers ob­jec­ted to Piper’s re­quest be­cause the city so­li­cit­or has to first move to seize the pen­sions and that has to be ad­ju­dic­ated else­where.

Byrd, however, said his or­der is val­id if the city seizes the de­fend­ants’ pen­sions.

“We have ad­vised the In­spect­or Gen­er­al’s of­fice of the con­vic­tions,” Piper later stated in an e-mail to the North­east Times. She said the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice plays no role in de­cid­ing the fates of the de­fend­ants’ pen­sions.

Mark Mc­Don­ald, spokes­man for May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, on Monday said the city’s Law De­part­ment is re­view­ing Judge Byrd’s or­der. 

A few steps need to be taken for the city to get hold of the con­victed men’s city pen­sions, said Fran­cis Bi­elli, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Board of Pen­sions and Re­tire­ment.

If a city em­ploy­ee is con­victed and sen­tenced, the in­spect­or gen­er­al no­ti­fies the pen­sion board, Bi­elli said dur­ing a phone in­ter­view on Monday. The board then asks the Law De­part­ment to render a leg­al opin­ion, based on city code and state law, on wheth­er the in­di­vidu­al should lose his pen­sion.

If the Law De­part­ment makes that re­com­mend­a­tion, Bi­elli said, the board at its monthly meet­ing first votes on wheth­er to sus­pend any pen­sion pay­ments be­ing made. The board then votes on wheth­er to dis­qual­i­fy the per­son from re­ceiv­ing a city pen­sion.

Last, and per­haps most im­port­ant to the CLIP de­fend­ants’ vic­tims, is that the pen­sion board votes to with­hold any money the em­ploy­ee had con­trib­uted to his pen­sion in or­der to sat­is­fy any fines or court-ordered resti­tu­tion.

The pen­sion board nev­er has voted against the Law De­part­ment’s re­com­mend­a­tion on such a mat­ter, Bi­elli said.

The board handles a hand­ful of such cases per year, he said.

Five of the men had pleaded guilty and were sen­tenced last month as their tri­al was about to be­gin. Not one was giv­en a max­im­um sen­tence longer than three years.  

Last Fri­day, those five — Rycharde Si­c­in­ski, Henry Tur­rentine, Al­gie Cuffee Jr., Al­gie Cuffee Sr. and Jer­maine Ad­derly — were taken in­to cus­tody by sher­iff’s depu­ties and taken to the city’s pris­ons on State Road for pro­cessing.  They all will be per­mit­ted to serve their time in the city’s jails. They will be re­leased to work but must re­turn to jail after work and on week­ends.

Four oth­ers had pleaded guilty earli­er. La­mont Wil­li­ams, An­thony Scarcia and Wil­li­am Roldan will be sen­tenced later this month. Wil­fredo Cin­tron already is serving his sen­tence of one to three years in state pris­on. Piper said he had agreed when sen­tenced to any resti­tu­tion amount that would be set. 

The crooks stole money, tools, jew­elry, ap­pli­ances, fur­niture, guns and even cloth­ing from houses they were sent to clean as em­ploy­ees of CLIP, a pro­gram that was cre­ated to ad­dress qual­ity-of-life is­sues in the North­east. Their vic­tims lost even more when the city billed them for the work the nine were sup­posed to have done.

Piper stated in her e-mail that the resti­tu­tion fig­ures in­cluded amounts the city had billed the vic­tims.

The men had pleaded guilty to theft, re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty, of­fi­cial op­pres­sion, per­jury and crim­in­al con­spir­acy. Ad­derly and Cuffee Jr. also pleaded guilty to weapons of­fenses. It was the stolen guns, which were traced back to homes vis­ited by CLIP em­ploy­ees, that spurred a grand jury in­vest­ig­a­tion and the charges against the men

Last Fri­day, the nine de­fend­ants agreed to pay equal shares of $25,314.72 in resti­tu­tion to a vic­tim who lived on the 1800 block of Grey­mont St. in Somer­ton.  

Eight of them will pay equal shares of $25,500 to a vic­tim who lived on the 9000 block of Con­vent Ave. Also, eight will pay equal shares of $27,500 each to two vic­tims who lived on the 1300 block of Har­ris­on Street in Frank­ford.  Six de­fend­ants will share resti­tu­tion of $2,270 to a vic­tim who lived on the 7200 block of Marsden St. in Ta­cony. 

A gun had been stolen from a vic­tim who lived on the 2900 block of Boud­inot St. in Kens­ing­ton, but that was re­turned, so the vic­tim at that ad­dress was not in­cluded in the resti­tu­tion agree­ment, Piper said. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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