Tag Archive: Stella Tulli

Records Show Top Chris Christie Advisor Lobbied To Bring More Inmates To Troubled Halfway Houses

Promoted by Rosi. Originally posted on Firedoglake.

Viviana Tulli was murdered by an escaped halfway house inmate

One of the most confusing aspects of the halfway house scandal – where numerous inmates escaped  halfway houses and committed horrendous crimes – is why such violent individuals would ever be released to such a low security facility in the first place. Based on records obtained by Firedoglake under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) we may be closer to an answer.

Bill Palatucci, a major fundraiser and former business partner of Governor Chris Christie, has spent copious amounts of time lobbying New Jersey officials to bolster the halfway house system for his longtime client and subsequent employer Community Education Centers (CEC) that has financially benefited from increased use of the halfway house system. Records show Palatucci was CEC’s registered lobbyist while also becoming a vice president for business development.

Lobbying For CEC

In his role as a lobbyist for CEC, for which he was generally paid $45,000 a year, Palatucci approached officials in both the New Jersey State Legislature, State Agencies, and the Governor’s office to promote CEC’s interests:

* In 2007 Palatucci lobbied then Governor Jon Corzine as well as the New Jersey Department of Corrections for a public contract for CEC in relation to a recent court ruling that found that local ordinances prohibiting the treatment sex offenders in various communities were “arbitrary and capricious.” Presumably Palatucci lobbied to help expand the use of halfway houses and other CEC services now that a court had struck down laws that prevented sex offenders from being housed within certain limits of children.

* In 2008 Palatucci lobbied the new State Parole Board chair and staff with a “discussion of services.” He also lobbied Assemblyman Louis Greenwald regarding Assembly Bill 2800 which increased funding for halfway houses. Additionally, Palatucci paid a visit to New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to “advocate review” of halfway housing licensing laws on behalf of CEC.

* In 2009 Palatucci lobbied again for halfway house licensing from Department of Community Affairs as well as for favorably amending a contract between CEC and Department of Corrections. Palatucci also disclosed that he was promoting a bill to expand halfway houses in the state of New Jersey.

After Chris Christie became governor in 2010, with considerable help from Palatucci, CEC began using other lobbyists. Palatucci had already gone beyond lobbying with CEC becoming senior vice president and general counsel for public affairs, he would ultimately resign from those positions in the wake of the halfway house scandal in 2012.

More after the jump

One year later AFTER Assembly hearing for Halfway House reform

promoted by Rosi

Today marks the one year anniversary of my testimony at the Assembly hearing for the Halfway house system in NJ and I’m still awaiting to see how this saga unfolds.  

If you recall- my beloved younger sister, Viviana Tulli was strangled by David Goodell , a CEC escapee ,on our mother’s 60th birthday on August 30, 2010.

I have read with interest all published articles seeing what is being done in the name of reform and I still wait for an outcome.  

Yes, I do understand this all takes time, but how much longer? Are the powers that be at CEC waiting me out?? Come on guys, you can do better than that.  As you can see- I’m not giving up that easily.

I have been blessed with the outpouring of support and guidance by so many, including your very own Rosi and Bill Orr.

I have requested appointment to the Halfway House task force- or whatever it will be called- to ensure reform does happen.  Who better to be on that task force than myself?? I have a very personal interest in this and will not give up.

I have made contact with several legislators for help in suggesting my appointment- hoping I can make a difference in some way.

I’m an everyday person TRYING to turn my sister’s horrible murder into a positive triumph for  us.  Not an easy feat.  

I recall my testimony last year- and become emotional- emotional as I was that day. My voice cracking, my attempt to hold back my tears as I spoke- all while heavily pregnant.

This rollercoaster ride that began almost 3 years ago has not been a fun ride.  There have been great ups and horrible lows, with some twists and turns for flair.

How can I right such a huge wrong on behalf of so many entities.  Yes, I will admit David killed her.  David, one month ago in court did ADMIT to faking a seizure and gave graphic  detail on “grabbing her by the neck and strangling her.”  When asked if his intent was to kill Vivi- he responded “yes.”

So, rehabilitation for a violent offender at a halfway house facility? Please, show me.

Due to my filed lawsuit against CEC, I can’t speak much about it- in case it hurts us.  What a crock.


Murder victim’s sister slams Christie corrections chief’s remarks

Something has bothered me all week since Bill Orr’s excellent post, Gary Lanigan’s Head: Stuck in the Sand. Lanigan, to refresh you, is Christie’s Corrections Commissioner. He’s not concerned about security and safety issues at NJ’s halfway houses, despite the fact it took the New York Times to get our state government to pay much attention, despite escapes during Hurricane Sandy (seriously, the system fails because of … weather?), and concerns that Christie friend/advisor/contributor till recently ran the corporate privatizer responsible for most of the issues. Lanigan’s job encompasses not only security concerns but also the rights of inmates and the community.

That said, his remarks to Senate Budget were so casual, as if he doesn’t take seriously how easily the system we’ve now let tycoons take over can be tricked by inmates. Yesterday, I chatted with Stella Tulli, whose sister was murdered by a man who fled a CEC facility by pretending to be sick. As irritating as Lanigan’s remarks were to me, they were something else beyond that for her. I thought part of what she wrote in Bill’s post deserved to be pulled up to our front page (which she gave permission for). Here’s how it looks to Stella:

I have a personal interest in the way the halfway house situation is going… I feel the need to speak and remind everyone who reads this on my family’s dealings with this situation..

My 21 year old sister was murdered by a CEC inmate who faked a seizure, transported to hospital and bc of  not having any law enforcement with him, he escaped.

He then met up with my sister and ended her life.

This may be a small “anecdote” to Lanigan, but to my family and myself- our lives continue in a nightmarish reality.. Reading this garbage from Lanigan and seeing how much time it is getting to move on halfway house reform is another punch to the gut.

It floors and appalls me that Gary Lanigan is not bothered in the least on this situation.  

The corrections commissioner in Pennsylvania admits there is a problem with the halfway house system, yet this guy can’t bring himself to admit it. I can only assume the more he tells himself it isn’t a problem, it isn’t.  seems as if he needs to convince not only himself, but the lemmings as well.

CEC Investigation: The Dirty Little Secrets of EHCA – Part VIII

Stella Tulli recounts the events of her sister’s murder by a CEC escapee, and her own painful, frustrating and hear-breaking experiences in this Blue Jersey diary.

Following Monday’s Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee’s aggressive questioning, particularly of CEC, we learned more about this secretive private organization and the calamitous disarray at its halfway houses. However, Blue Jersey research into CEC’s non-profit arm – Education & Health Centers of America (EHCA) – reveals disturbing new details. EHCA was created to circumvent the law that requires only non-profits can receive halfway house contracts from the Department of Corrections (DOC). We have learned that EHCA reduces transparency, adds unnecessary costs to the halfway house operation, allows selected individuals to receive dual compensation, lets CEC retain profits in EHCA which are nontaxable, offers no firewall between the two firms, and donates to organizations from which it seeks favors for CEC.

EHCA’s most recent non-profit 990 tax filing provides a wealth of information. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, EHCA received $71,049,271 in revenue from NJ State & local governments. It passed on only $69,038,017 to CEC as a “support service fee,” to run the halfway houses. EHCA kept $2,011,254 (2.8% of EHCA revenue). With EHCA, CEC gained a second entity to divert NJ government funds away from direct CEC services and into separate coffers controlled by CEC.

What did EHCA do with its $2,011,254? First of all, $664,435, which could have been spent on inmate services, was treated as EHCA retained earnings and added to its fund balance. As an entity designed theoretically as a “pass through” organization to get funds to CEC for program purposes, it became a repository to divert funds and allow John Clancy as Chair of both CEC and EHCA to do as he wished. These retained earnings held by the non-profit EHCA are nontaxable, whereas, if they were retained as profit by the for-profit CEC they would be subject to tax. In effect, EHCA reduces CEC’s taxes.

Here are some additional uses for the $2,011,254 pocketed by EHCA. John Clancy paid himself $350,000 as Chair of EHCA, claiming to work 30 hours per week for EHCA – an entity which represents only a fraction of CEC’s total activities in 15 states. This salary excludes whatever he received from CEC as its Founder and CEO to which he likely dedicates the majority of his time. In the process he is using a NJ non-profit organization receiving our government funds  to pay for work most likely performed on ventures in other states. The total compensation costs of this “pass through” agency for its officers, directors, trustees and key employees was $581,863. Other salaries were $262,292, and employee benefits and payroll tax were $84,855.  A lot of costs just to pass government funds to CEC.

Other expenses included legal: $112,332 and accounting: $31,500. With no real difference between the two entities, EHCA added occupancy costs: $60,019, office expenses: $22,073 and other costs for insurance and depreciation.

During Assembly testimony Dr. Robert Mackey, CEC Senior Vice President, testified about the required “firewall” erected between CEC and EHCA. Nonetheless, Dr. Mackey stated he received part of his salary from EHCA and that his responsibilities span many states.  Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-20) rightly scoffed at the notion of a “firewall” as Mackey and Clancy work for both organizations. Not mentioned by Dr. Mackey was that Maria Carnevale, as an employee of EHCA with compensation there of $102,600, is also listed in the CEC website as part of the “CEC Management Team” as Assistant to John Clancy, presumably with an additional salary.

Beyond the fold: more about the fake firewall, donations, the impact of EHCA, and the need for change.

halfway house victim

First up to testify this week in the 7-hour halfway house hearing before Assembly Law & Public Safety was Stella Tulli, whose younger sister Viviana was murdered when David Goodell escaped from a facility run by Community Education Centers (CEC) the company with close ties to Gov. Christie. Her voice shook as she asked the panel for answers, but she did it. Grateful she is telling her family’s story here.   – promoted by Rosi

Allow me to introduce myself–

My name is Stella Tullli- I”m a 36 year old female, mother of 2 boys and pregnant with a girl who shall be here in about 6 weeks.

You may have recognized my name… I testified at NJ Assembly Hearing yesterday, July 23, 2012 in regards to the halfway house system.

The reason for my speaking out— My lively 21 year old sister, my mini me, Viviana Tulli was tragically murdered by a man who “absconded” from a NJ halfway home on August 30, 2010