Renee Tartaglione indicted in mental health clinic conspiracy
A politically connected former city official was charged Wednesday with defrauding and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a North Philadelphia mental health clinic.
According to the indictment, Renee Tartaglione, 60, has been charged with conspiracy, fraud, and theft involving a nonprofit clinic that provides Medicaid-funded mental health services in Philadelphia's most Latino neighborhood.
The U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that Tartaglione, acting as the president of the board of directors at Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic (JCMHC), misappropriated funds of the clinic in “a series of actions designed to benefit Tartaglione at the expense of the clinic.”
Tartaglione, a former deputy city commissioner, is the sister of Sen. Christine "Tina" Tartaglione. Their mother, Margaret "Marge" Tartaglione, was a longtime city commissioner and fierce personality in Philadelphia politics.
The defendant is also the wife of 19th Ward Leader Carlos Matos, who named himself as a co-founder of JCMHC. (The clinic is located in Matos' ward.)
If convicted on all charges, Tartaglione would face “a substantial prison term,” in addition to fines and supervised release. The indictment also lists six unnamed co-conspirators alongside Tartaglione. All of the co-conspirators, who are known to the grand jury, either worked at clinic or are related to people who worked at the clinic.
The charges detail the clinic's two properties, which are located at N. 3rd and Dauphin Streets and N. 5th and West Huntington Streets:
- Tartaglione allegedly purchased the building on 3rd Street in Philadelphia which then housed the clinic and then repeatedly raised the clinic’s rent in what the feds call a “substantial excess” of the area’s market value.
- In December 2011, the conspirators allegedly used Tartaglione’s parent company — Norris Hancock LLC — to purchase the clinic’s building on 5th Street. They leased the building to JCMHC under a lease that stipulated $35,000 per month in rent for the first two years, and $75,000 per month for the next three years.
- Moreover, the court document alleges that the rent increases were no approved by the clinic’s board, and that Tartaglione and her co-conspirators falsified documents in an attempt to make the transaction look legitimate.
- The indictment also charges Tartaglione with recieving kickbacks from persons who were issued checks drawn on JCMHC’s accounts, and by causing JCMHC to pay Norris Hancock more than 12 months of rent in some years.
- Tartaglione is also charged with falsifying federal income tax returns by underreporting her income for tax years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012.
“Non-profit organizations, including those that deliver health care, hold a special place in our society, and the people who manage them are required to act in the best interests of the nonprofit,” United States Attorney Zane David Memeger, who announced the charges, said in a statement Wednesday. “When instead, those trusted leaders decide to commit fraud, and line their pockets with the funds of the nonprofit, they appropriately face the severe consequences of a federal prosecution.”
This isn't the first time Juniata's name has been on the legal radar.
Over two years ago, a former Juniata clinic employee alleged she had been fired for asking questions about fraudulent Medicaid billing at the clinic. She filed a lawsuit against Matos and the clinic's administator at the time, and federal authorities raided the clinic's office on 5th Street in June 2014.