Boston police and the Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street (HJSMS) board of directors began an investigation July 12 into alleged “discrepancies in the financial statements” of the local Main Street organization’s books, according to the Boston Police Department (BPD). Mayor Thomas Menino has also ordered an investigation.
HJSMS Executive Director Carlos Schillaci told the Gazette he was unaware of the police investigation. He officially resigned his post on July 1 because he and his partner are moving, he said. But, he said, he gave two months notice, and was at work last week.
In a statement emailed to the Gazette, HJSMS board president Jason LaGorga confirmed that “financial irregularities” have been identified in the organization.
He declined to comment further, including about the exact nature of the financial irregularities.
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC)—fiscal agent of HJSMS—is listed as the “victim” in a July 12 police report about the investigation. Generally, fiscal agents are responsible for the finances of the organizations they sponsor. Gazette calls to the JPNDC were not returned by press time.
No one has been charged with any crime. BPD spokesperson Elaine Driscoll told the Gazette that Boston police are investigating the matter at the request of the HJSMS board.
Kerry O’Brien, a spokesperson for the city Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), which oversees the Boston Main Streets program, told the Gazette that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has ordered Main Streets to do a “complete review of HJSMS’s spending practices.” That review will be independent of the board and police investigation, she said.
It will likely just double-check the HJSMS board’s work. “We have confidence the HJSMS board will do a complete review of the financial situation and will rectify it,” she said.
“Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street has recently identified a series of financial irregularities within the organization,” said LaGorga, the HJSMS board chair, in a written statement. “We believe this incident to be isolated and…not symptomatic of the organization as a whole or the City of Boston Main Streets program. The board is committed to rectifying the situation as well as continuing its work helping small businesses in and around the Hyde Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.”
Schillaci said that while he had not heard about the police investigation, he is aware there have been some questions about HJSMS’s financial records.
“The only thing I know about is that they were looking at some past records. Payments [owed to] the JPNDC were not going out on time,” he said.
But those issues dated back to before his tenure as executive director, which began in 2009, he said.
Schillaci said he continued working until July 14, when he sustained a back injury after some boxes in the office basement fell on him. He said he has not spoken to anyone on the board for at least two weeks.
HJSMS is one of three independent Main Street organizations in JP. Main Streets organizations throughout the city are responsible for promoting economic development and supporting businesses in their districts.
According to HJSMS’s website, the organization is currently taking applications for the executive director position.