Ex-CRA official pays $58,745 in penalties, restitution, Ethics Commission reports
The state’s Ethics Commission has imposed a $37,500 civil penalty on Joseph Tulimieri, the former executive director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, and has required him to pay $21,245 in restitution to the authority.
Tulimieri was executive director of the Cambridge agency from 1982 until his forced resignation Sept. 27, 2012, after a period in which he worked for the agency hourly. The agency’s five-member board, all of whom became active in April 2012 after a 32-month “quiet period” with zero board activity, identified irregularities in how Tulimieri assigned himself salary, bonuses, part-time wages and retirement compensation.
“The authority has become concerned that salary increases and benefit enhancements received by its executive director were not properly authorized,” authority chairwoman Kathy Born said at the time. “The authority is beginning the process of hiring independent counsel and a forensic audit firm to examine these concerns. The authority is committed to determining the full extent of these matters in a transparent fashion.”
Tulimieri had been at the authority for more than three decades, but actually retired Dec. 31, 2010, when by his own account he was earning an annual salary of $220,480. His retirement benefits were $144,280.56 annually as he went on working part time, up to 960 hours a year, for the authority, making $78,617 in wages at $113 per hour.
After the forced resignation, the agency appointed a special counsel to look into pay-related irregularities and asked for Tulimieri to pay back at least $80,000. Legal and ethical questions followed him to Arlington, where he was replaced as chairman on that town’s five-member Zoning Board of Appeals.
Born declined to comment Tuesday night.
David Giannotti, communications division chief for the Ethics Commission, said Tuesday of the decision, “Our outcome is final. He’s admitted to violating the law and agreed to pay.”
“Our stuff stands on its own. Whether agencies other than the Ethics Commission want to look at this and consider whether other action is [warranted], you’d have to ask them,” Giannotti said.
The commission approved a disposition agreement dated June 16 in which Tulimieri admitted to violating a state conflict-of-interest law by increasing his own compensation five times. As the commission says:
On February 10, 2010, Tulimieri took two actions to increase his own compensation. He approved 3 percent pay raises for all staff, including himself, retroactive to July 1, 2009, and he converted his $10,000 travel allowance into salary, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010. Both actions were taken without first obtaining the approval of the CRA board. These actions increased Tulimieri’s compensation from $198,114 to $214,100. The CRA board subsequently ratified these pay increases at its March 17, 2010, meeting. In November 2010, Tulimieri, without first obtaining Board approval, authorized an additional 3 percent pay raise for all staff, including himself. This action increased Tulimieri’s compensation from $214,100 to $220,479. When Tulimieri retired from the CRA … he received a payout for his accrued and unused vacation and compensatory time based upon an annualized rate of pay of $220,480. After his retirement, Tulimieri, without seeking board approval, continued to work as executive director on a part-time basis at an hourly rate of pay of $113.07, which was based on his rate of pay at retirement. The agreement states that Tulimieri claimed that he did not seek board approval for the November 2010 pay raise, or for his decision to hire himself as the part-time executive director after his retirement, because the board did not have a valid quorum of the five members available. On Sept. 27, 2012, Tulimieri resigned from the CRA.
Tulimieri has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment.
Read the full disposition agreement here.