It’s been a week since we last reported on the Gan Rivkah Shelter in Milford. Unfortunately a fraudulent call to the police and a restraining order hearing for me have distracted from the story itself. But this story needs finality. What we discovered, and what you read about, was horrifying. There were so many issues identified that I think it’s important to highlight the major ones, so that we can come up with a solution or course of action on how to address them:
- This is a non-profit that hasn’t filed its taxes in years, and has no real accounting or bookkeeping. Donated money has been spent on alcohol, cigarettes, Uber, frivolous attorney fees, restaurants, etc.
- Politicians, businesses, and private citizens have been defrauded into donating money, clothing, and labor under the guise that it is helping keep the shelter afloat. In reality this money is used to subsidize her mortgage and her two failing businesses. Donated clothing has been sold for profit, and a donated drier is kept in her house.
- Her two adult children live there for free, and her son, who has obvious issues with alcohol and anger towards women, admitted to sleeping with a resident who Hadassah then kicked out for “seducing” him.
- The restaurant she owns is in obvious and blatant disregard of several regulations, which the Fire Department and Board of Health are aware of and continue to ignore.
- Former residents have told us horror stories of abuse coming directly from Hadassah.
- Hadassah forces residents to pay her rent, in some cases 30% of what they make. She also evicts them at will, without any legal remedy on the part of the residents. Thus she is essentially a landlord, who doesn’t have to follow regulations for landlords because she claims to be running a shelter/non-profit.
- Hadassah admittedly has had up to 32 people staying in her one story, three bedroom shelter, which only has 1 bathroom. This is against the law. Additionally the bunk bed cribs, and cramped conditions are an obvious fire hazard. If there were ever a fire in this house there would be enormous casualties.
- She sells livestock out of her garage and breeds animals.
- She violates privacy rights for victims of domestic violence by filming them without their consent and posting the videos on Facebook for the purposes of eliciting donations. She has also announced where one woman was fleeing to after being beaten by a family member.
- She faked a disappearance of her adult daughter in June in order to promote her restaurant. This same daughter has accused her brother of being a “violent, abusive drug addict” multiple times on Facebook. The same brother who lives rent free in the house where residents have to pay.
- The yard at the GRC is in violation of the town’s 2011 nuisance laws. The town is aware of this and has done nothing.
- Two of the three members of the board of selectmen and the Town Administrator have not responded to inquiries.
- Hadassah uses a mentally challenged former resident as a source of income, who she admittedly collects $800 a month from in order to live in her house.
- The Milford Daily News has not reported on this topic, but still has easily accessible positive stories about GRC that could lead to more donations in the future.
- Senator Ryan Fattman has not responded to this story at all.
There’s more, but those are the major issues we face. The question is, what do we now? Sadly I’ve seen it dissolve into infighting, hysterics, and rumors, all of which distract from our goal. This problem won’t get fixed by posting in Facebook groups. It will get fixed by taking action by picking up the phone, emailing people whose job it is to fix this, or showing up to Selectmen meetings and demanding answers.
The one politician who has been very responsive thus far is State Representative Brian Murray, who was conned into donating $1,000 to the shelter. Here’s an email he sent us a week and a half ago (email in italics, my thoughts follow in normal font):
Well, I did reach out to the Town Administrator because of the issues you raised in your stories. He told me that the Fire Department and the Health inspector have gone to Cedar Street, presumably as a result of your story. He said the Fire Department had some things for her to take care of, which I believe he said she did, and that the department is satisfied. I have not spoken to the chief, but I did see in one of your stories about the stacked cribs which I do not know how that could not be a fire danger.
Representative Murray acknowledges that the bunk cribs are an obvious fire hazard. Yet the fire department and board of health have done nothing to fix this.
The Health Agent, I was told, cited her for violations which now have a timeline for her to comply with. I asked the Town Administrator to have the Fire Dept. and Health Agent inspect the 2 businesses on Main Street also which he said he would do.
What violations? She cleared out the gutters, but other than that Hadassah has bragged about how they Board of Health has done nothing. The kitchen at the Karma Cafe would not pass any fire department’s basic inspections for a restaurant.
From this point, I have a couple of thoughts. The Town set up several years ago when I was a member of the Board of Selectmen a Housing Task Force to deal with problem properties on a comprehensive basis. The idea was to have all relevant departments inspect a certain property and then work together in their respective specialties to address the various problems or violations. I’m not sure whether the present board is still utilizing this process, but this is an ideal situation to do so.
The Building Dept. needs to inspect the properties for any Code or Zoning violations. We do have a Nuisance By-Law to address distressed properties and the photos you had of the yard alone would appear to at least show that. So these departments should be involved also.
Milford enacted a nuisance ordinance in 2011 that 16 Cedar Street is in violation of. According to this ordinance a $300 per day fine is necessitated. And no, the present board, in particular William Buckley and William Kingkade, are doing nothing about this.
In this instance, the Task Force, in addition to Fire and Health, would bring the Police and Building departments in as well. Your stories had extensive police involvement at Cedar Street. I have got to think the Police Chief, albeit newly appointed on an interim basis, would have some suggestions. Are there any criminal charges possible against the owner, just on the operation of the property itself? That is what would have to be fully discussed with the Chief by the Board of Selectmen.
The Chief of Police in Milford was ousted in a coup by the selectmen. Kingkade likely did so because the former chief wanted him investigated for an OUI he was responsible for last year. The new chief is unqualified and tarnished, and works at the bidding of the Selectmen. Counting on these corrupt politicians to do the right thing is a losing strategy.
And the Tax Collector should be consulted. If this woman is behind in any taxes, the Town may be able to initiate proceedings, depending upon the length of time of the deficiency.
In terms of the way she has handled her finances, I think that is beyond the town’s jurisdiction. As a purported non-profit, she is required to report financials to the Attorney General’s Office on an annual basis. Somehow, I have the feeling that has not occurred and the AG’s Office would be in a position to investigate, level sanctions or charges, if applicable.
To my knowledge she is not behind on taxes, but she has not filed her 990’s, which the AG’s officer should investigate. Since Representative Murray works on Beacon Hill and has access to Maura Healey, I would urge him and Senator Fattman to take action.
I do not think that there are any other state agencies that would regulate her, however, I am not entirely certain at this point in time. I would have to look into that further. It may even be of interest to the District Attorney’s Office if they feel that they could prove that this lady has been soliciting money on false pretenses.
I apologize for the length of this email, but these are some of the things that I think can be pursued. I read your 3 installments and I thought you did a really good job uncovering what this lady has been, and is, doing which is awful. I hope that this is helpful and if you have any other questions, just let me know.
He’s right about the DA’s office. They should be contacted as well. It’s positive that someone in a position of power has been following this story and agrees that action is needed.
So here’s what we urge you to do moving forward, particularly if you live in Milford, or in Murray or Fattman’s district:
1. Contact the Milford Daily News. Try email, and if none of them respond then call them. This is a small town newspaper. They will know when people call and will have to respond if they are inundated with messages. They have the power to publicize this, which would get picked up by other Gatehouse owned newspapers (although I have little faith in Gatehouse since they no longer cover local news).
General Contact info: 508-634-7522 or [email protected]
Regional Director of News & Operations Ann Brennan –
- 508-626-387, [email protected]
Director of Multimedia Caitlyn Kelleher
- 508-626-3858, [email protected]
Opinion Editor Phil Maddocks
- 508-626-4437, [email protected]
2. Contact District Attorney Joe Early’s Office about the fraudulent donation system
508-755-8601, [email protected]
3. Contact Milford Town Administrator Richard Villani, or any of his underlings
Assistant Amin Lisa Pires: 508-634-2303
Administrative Service Coordinator Liz Fernandez: (508) 634-2304
4. Contact the Attorney General’s Office here.
5. Contact the IRS here.
6. Contact Senator Fattman and Representative Murray.
7. Contact the Board of Health and ask to speak with inspectors Lisa Tamagni or Steve Garabedian, or David Denlinger from Housing Occupancy.
8. Contact the Fire Department.
Email Chief Touhey: [email protected]
9. If they do not respond then citizens of Milford need to show up at the next Selectmen’s meeting and make their voices heard in person.
Again, this all means nothing if people do not take action. I have contacted all of the above, but I am only one person. These people respond to volume. They can ignore me, but they can’t ignore hundreds or thousands of people, which is what we have reading these blogs, which is our greatest strength.
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