Pension board goes after CLIP cons

JOHN TAG­GART / TIMES PHOTO Clip work­er Al­gie Cut­tee takes a pho­to­graph of each prop­erty be­fore & after shots for proof that the res­id­ents do not take care of their prop­erty when they take the no­tice to court.


Amends with be­ne­fits.

The city is us­ing the pen­sions of sev­er­al former em­ploy­ees who ripped off North­east res­id­ents to make resti­tu­tion to those vic­tims.

The city’s Board of Pen­sions and Re­tire­ment has voted to take the pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions of eight former work­ers in the Com­munity Life Im­prove­ment Pro­gram who had pleaded guilty to ran­sack­ing four North­east houses, Deputy City So­li­cit­or Joshua Stein said last week. The pen­sion board will de­cide the case of a ninth ex-CLIP em­ploy­ee this week, Stein said.

The pen­sion board’s ac­tions will hit at least one of the men hard, but sev­er­al had not con­trib­uted sig­ni­fic­ant sums to their pen­sions, had re­tired and already had tapped much of their own con­tri­bu­tions, or had with­drawn their con­tri­bu­tions be­fore they pleaded guilty.

So far, none of the pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions that have been with­held has been dis­trib­uted to the vic­tims, Stein said.

Rycharde Si­c­in­ski, Henry Tur­rentine, Al­gie Cuf­fie Jr., Al­gie Cuf­fie Sr., Wil­li­am Roldan, Wil­fredo Cin­tron, An­thony Scarcia, Jer­maine Ad­derly and La­mont Wil­li­ams were ar­res­ted in late 2009 on charges they had stolen money and per­son­al prop­erty from homes in Somer­ton, Ta­cony, Tor­res­dale and Frank­ford from mid-2006 through Janu­ary 2008. As CLIP em­ploy­ees, they had been sent to clean up and se­cure the prop­er­ties.

By Septem­ber 2011, all had pleaded guilty. None will do more than a max­im­um of three years in jail, but all were ordered to chip in their shares of $108,000 in resti­tu­tion to five vic­tims.

In Oc­to­ber, Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd signed an or­der re­ques­ted by As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Shar­on Piper to tap in­to the de­fend­ants’ city pen­sions and ordered that the money be used to­ward mak­ing resti­tu­tion to the vic­tims.

To do that, the pen­sion board had to take three ac­tions. The first was to vote to stop pay­ments to those who had re­tired and already were re­ceiv­ing monthly checks. The second was to dis­qual­i­fy the con­victed ex-em­ploy­ees from re­ceiv­ing city pen­sions. The third was to with­hold what they paid in­to their pen­sions to sat­is­fy court costs, fines and resti­tu­tion.

These are the votes Ad­derly must face on Thursday, Jan. 5.

In Ju­ly, the board voted to dis­qual­i­fy Cin­tron, Stein said, and to with­hold his pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions. He had worked for the city for al­most four and a half years. He did not ap­peal the de­cision, Stein said.

In Oc­to­ber, Al­gie Cuf­fie Sr., who had re­tired in Septem­ber 2009, had his $1,700 monthly pen­sion pay­ments stopped and he was dis­qual­i­fied from re­ceiv­ing more, Stein said. His pen­sion con­tri­bu­tions were with­held, too, Stein said.

Since pay­ments are at first drawn from money a pen­sion­er ac­tu­ally put in­to his fund, there might not be much left of Cuf­fie Sr.’s con­tri­bu­tions, Stein said, even though he worked for the city al­most 20 years.

The board ruled the same for Tur­rentine, who had re­tired in Janu­ary 2010, about a month after his ar­rest, and was re­ceiv­ing al­most $1,900 monthly. Stein said Tur­rentine is ap­peal­ing the board’s vote.

Si­c­in­ski, who was a su­per­visor, had made more than $43,000 in con­tri­bu­tions to his pen­sion in his 26 years with the city. He had not with­drawn any of it. He was not re­tired, al­though he left city em­ploy­ment in mid-Janu­ary 2010. In Decem­ber, the pen­sion board voted to dis­qual­i­fy him from re­ceiv­ing a pen­sion and to with­hold his con­tri­bu­tions.

The oth­ers had not worked for the city more than a few years. There­fore, they had not made large amounts of con­tri­bu­tions to their pen­sions. Some had with­drawn what little they had put in be­fore they pleaded guilty to theft, con­spir­acy and re­lated charges.

No money has yet been paid out to the CLIP work­ers’ five vic­tims, Stein stated in an e-mail to the North­east Times. The pen­sion board staff has col­lec­ted the doc­u­ment­a­tion on the dis­qual­i­fied em­ploy­ees, but is await­ing the de­cision on Ad­derly.

“The ori­gin­al plan had been to send them [to Com­mon Pleas Court] as one pack­age, rather than piece­meal, for the court to de­term­ine what amounts need to be paid by whom,” Stein wrote.

Stein stated he ad­vised the pen­sion board to send the court most of the doc­u­ment­a­tion by Jan. 11.

Tur­rentine is ap­peal­ing the board’s ac­tion, and oth­ers still might ap­peal the pen­sion board’s de­cisions, Stein said. Only three of the nine no longer have ap­peal rights, he ad­ded. Tur­rentine goes be­fore the pen­sion board again Feb. 23. If the board up­holds its vote, Tur­rentine can ap­peal to Com­mon Pleas Court with­in 30 days.

“If he does choose to ap­peal, that pro­cess could take months to play out,” Stein wrote. “While that takes place, the mat­ter is still un­settled, and thus, we won’t be able to pay any re­main­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the court.”

If oth­ers ap­peal, that could add time to the pro­cess. ••


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