On Wednesday morning, United States Attorney Zane David Memeger announced charges against 60-year-old Renee Tartaglione, a member of a longtime and controversial political dynasty in Philadelphia. The charges surround the Juniata Community Mental Health Clinic, a nonprofit where prosecutors say Tartaglione was president of the board of directors.
According to an indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday, Tartaglione stole money from the nonprofit in an alleged scheme involving two pieces of real estate.
Prosecutors say that while Tartaglione was board president, she personally bought the building that the clinic is housed in on North Third Street, making the organization her tenant, and then turned around and increased the rent over and over again, eventually forcing the clinic to pay her $25,000 each month. The monthly rent before Tartaglione bought the building? Just $4,500, according to prosecutors.
In another instance, Tartaglione allegedly enlisted the help of an unnamed co-conspirator to purchase a building on North Fifth Street, a building that the co-conspirator is said to have made a deposit on using a check signed by Tartaglione. Then more than a year later, a company owned by Tartaglione allegedly bought the same building and then rented it out to the mental health organization at extraordinary rates: $35,000 each month for the first couple of years and a monthly rent of $75,000 thereafter.
Prosecutors say that the rental agreements and increases were not approved by the clinic’s board and that Tartaglione and others tried to cover up the suspicious deals using fraudulent documents.
But that’s not all. Tartaglione is also accused of filing bogus tax returns for four years and getting illegal kickbacks that defrauded the clinic.
The indictment comes after the FBI raided the clinic back in 2014, a raid that occurred just two months after a former clinic employee filed a lawsuit, alleging that she was terminated after raising red flags over how the clinic had been billing Medicaid.
The Tartaglione name is no stranger to controversy or the spotlight. Marge Tartaglione, Renee’s mother, presided over the City Commissioner’s office with an iron fist for 36 years, beginning in 1975 and making lots of enemies in the interim. Renee’s sister, Tina Tartaglione, is a state senator. And Renee’s husband is convicted felon Carlos Matos, who is also a Democratic ward leader. Matos said he was the co-founder of the mental health clinic, according to a 2014 City Paper article.
Tartaglione has been charged with theft, fraud and conspiracy.
Tartaglione did not immediately respond to a request for comment. She was due in court this afternoon. When reached by phone, Matos declined comment.
Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/citified/2016/01/27/renee-tartaglione-indictment/
Copyright ©2019 Philadelphia Magazine unless otherwise noted.