Sol Adler, the longtime executive director of the 92nd Street Y, has been fired in the aftermath of an investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the leading cultural institution, the Y announced last Friday evening. The announcement came two days after The Jewish Week reported he was on medical leave and that several employees had been dismissed as a result of a suspected kickback scheme.
In an e-mail sent out shortly before Shabbat, the board of the storied Upper East Side Jewish community center explained that it had decided to dismiss Adler, who is married, after learning he had been engaged in an “undisclosed long term personal relationship” with a subordinate, Cathy Marto.
Marto, who had served as the 92Y’s liaison for board and donor relations, is the mother-in-law of a former employee who allegedly demanded and received illegal payments from 92Y vendors.
While the Y e-mail did not name Marto’s son-in-law, the Daily News, in an article Saturday, identified him as Sal Taddeo, a onetime stockbroker who pleaded guilty in 1999 for his role in a Mafia-run Wall Street scam.
According to the News, Taddeo began working at the Y in 2000, shortly after leaving prison, and became head of facilities operations in 2005. He left this February, and soon after the Y received an anonymous letter about his alleged criminal dealings — dealings for which the Y’s investigation, according to its Friday e-mail, “determined that there was strong evidence of wrongdoing.”
In the course of the Y’s investigation, conducted by outside legal counsel, Marto was “terminated for incomplete or inaccurate answers to investigators,” according to the board’s e-mail; two other employees were terminated “for engaging in and failing to report suspected inappropriate behavior.”
The results of the investigation “were promptly turned over to the District Attorney and we are doing all we can to assist in their review,” the e-mail noted.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined to comment on the case.
It is not clear if Y officials knew of Taddeo’s criminal background when hiring him, whether Adler’s relationship with Marto influenced the decision to employ him and if the Y is pressing charges against Taddeo, Marto or Adler. Asked in an e-mail interview about these issues, Beverly Greenfield, the Y’s director of public and media relations said, “I’m afraid we’re not going to comment further on the situation right now.”
While the Y, according to the Friday e-mail, decided to dismiss Adler upon learning of his relationship with Marto, it first placed him on medical leave because, immediately after its decision “Mr. Adler entered the hospital very suddenly” and “we determined not to take action on that day out of concern for him and compassion for his family as we sought to learn the details of his condition.”
Deputy Executive Director Henry Timms will take over as interim executive director while the board conducts a search for a permanent successor to Adler.
“While we know this news is unsettling, we believe that the 92Y Board has taken the appropriate steps so that the kind of activity discovered should never happen again,” the e-mail said. “The Board has engaged an independent accounting firm to assist in implementing best financial practices and we are undertaking a top to bottom governance review to ensure that all of the people in our organization live up to the values we espouse.”
Adler’s dismissal comes just months after the Y announced it would close its multimillion-dollar Tribeca facility, which it had opened in 2007. That move has spurred Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President David Emil to demand the Y return one-third of a $1.5 million grant it received for the facility, according to the Tribeca Trib newspaper.
Taddeo, according to the Daily News, oversaw bids on construction work done at the Y facility.
The Y is one of the largest and oldest Jewish community centers in North America and is known internationally for its extensive cultural programming.
Adler, whose compensation totaled $436,370 in 2011, the most recent year for which tax forms are available, had been with the Y since 1978 and its top executive since 1988. The Y website credited him with doubling the number of its programs, and raising more than $80 million.