92Y’s Adler On Medical Leave Amid Probe

92Y’s Adler On Medical Leave Amid Probe

Several employees terminated after letter alleged Y staff had extorted 'improper payments' from vendors.

In the midst of a kickback investigation at the 92nd Street Y in which several employees have been terminated, Sol Adler, the Upper East Side institution’s longtime executive director is away on medical leave, The Jewish Week has learned.

According to a source close to the situation, a committee of three executives — Deputy Executive Director Henry Timms, Human Resources Director Eric Lange and Finance/Administration Director Jim O’Hara — is taking on Adler’s duties in his absence.

Adler, whose compensation totaled $436,370 in 2011, the most recent year for which tax forms are available, has been with the Y since 1978 and its top executive since 1988. The Y website credits him with doubling the number of its programs, and raising more than $80 million.

An e-mail circulated to Y employees on Friday by Cliff Owusu, the manager of benefits, describes the kickback investigation but does not mention Adler, and does not identify the terminated employees.

According to the e-mail, which the Y’s director of media relations shared with The Jewish Week, the Y received an anonymous letter earlier this year “alleging that one of our managerial employees in the Facilities Department had demanded and received improper payments from 92Y vendors.”

The Y “immediately formed a special committee of directors and engaged an outside law firm to investigate the allegations,” which “produced evidence that the employee in question, whose employment ended before receipt of the anonymous letter, had engaged in improper conduct,” the e-mail says.

It notes that the employee’s severance and other benefits have been terminated, and “evidence concerning his misconduct has been disclosed to the appropriate authorities. 92Y will, of course, cooperate fully in any investigation of such misconduct.”

Although the evidence produced by the investigation pointed only to a single employee receiving improper payments, the e-mail says the Y “is taking appropriate steps, including the termination of several employees who were aware of or should have been aware of, but failed to report, improper conduct. In addition, 92Y is retaining an independent and outside accounting firm to ensure that it is compliant with best practices and controls in all aspects of its facilities purchasing and other operations.”

The e-mail notes that the improper conduct “has not had a material impact on 92Y’s financial condition, which is sounder than it has been in many years.”

Beverly Greenfield, the Y’s director of media relations, declined to comment or to confirm Adler’s current employment status, only referring The Jewish Week to the staff e-mail.

Stuart J. Ellman, the Y’s president, did not return a call seeking comment.

The kickback investigation 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.

The Y is one of the largest and oldest Jewish community centers in North America and is known internationally for its extensive cultural programming.

julie.inthemix@gmail.com; @julie_wiener

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