By Julie Manganis
---- — BEVERLY — The former Beverly Hospital executive who admitted last year to running a “pay to play” scheme targeting contractors on a $50 million hospital renovation is out of jail, and has already landed a new job — one that he says will keep him too busy to perform the community service that was a condition of his probation.
Paul Galzerano, 60, is now living in Haverhill and working for North Andover-based IMEC, a nonprofit that collects and distributes used medical equipment to developing countries, his lawyer said during a hearing Wednesday in Lawrence Superior Court, where he was asking to be excused from his community service requirement.
Last May, Galzerano, a former vice president at Northeast Health Systems, was sentenced to serve 18 months of a two-year jail term after pleading guilty in Salem Superior Court to charges of larceny and commercial bribery. He was paroled last month.
Prosecutors had been seeking four to five years in state prison during his sentencing last year.
Galzerano admitted to soliciting bribes and kickbacks from four contractors seeking to work on a $50 million renovation and expansion at Beverly Hospital. He also admitted to stealing antiques from the hospital corporation, including a grandfather clock and a painting that had once hung at Gloucester’s Addison Gilbert Hospital prior to its 1994 merger into Northeast. The items were later found in his former Groveland home. He also billed pricey antiques to the hospital and had them delivered to his home as well.
As part of the scheme, contractors paid his personal bills, one of them funneling $260,000 to Galzerano through various means, another paying a $95,000 kickback. They also performed work at his home.
Those contractors subsequently admitted to the charges and received varying sentences, including restitution.
The scheme, prosecutors said last year, continued for more than three years.
As a part of his sentence, Galzerano was ordered to serve two years of probation following his release from jail.
But at the time, Judge Howard Whitehead did not order him to pay restitution, saying it would be futile, since Galzerano “has essentially been destroyed.”
Instead, under the belief that Galzerano was penniless and without any family, the judge ordered him to perform 20 hours a week of community service at the New Bedford veterans’ shelter, where Galzerano told the judge he intended to live after his release.
Wednesday, however, a Lawrence Superior Court judge decided that Galzerano won’t have to perform that community service, after Galzerano’s lawyer and a probation officer told her that Galzerano was now living in Haverhill and working up to 70 hours a week for IMEC.
Attorney William Boland said Galzerano is paid for 20 hours of work at the nonprofit, and the rest of his time is as a “volunteer.” The amount he is paid was not disclosed in court.
“It’s almost synonymous with doing community service,” Boland argued. He also submitted a letter from IMEC’s chief executive officer, Tom Keefe, who said Galzerano’s background in health care is of particular value to the organization.
Judge Mary Ames questioned the lawyer and a probation officer about Whitehead’s original intent; neither had been present for last May’s sentencing hearing.
They told her they believed the judge intended the community service to make up for a waived probation fee. Typically, people on probation pay $65 a month, a “supervision fee” assessed by the state. If they cannot come up with the money, they can perform eight hours of community service each month instead.
That’s significantly fewer hours than the 20 hours a week ordered by Whitehead last year.
Ames concluded that Galzerano’s work at a nonprofit “is in the spirit of” what Whitehead intended, and agreed to waive the community service requirement.
She also ordered, however, that Galzerano will now pay the $65 monthly fee.
Asked outside court why Galzerano did not return to the veterans shelter after his release, Boland referred questions to another attorney, Scott Gleason, who did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
Keefe, Galzerano’s new boss, is a former hospital executive who started IMEC in 1995 out of his New Hampshire home and later moved the organization to Massachusetts, according to the group’s website and news reports.
A message left for Keefe Wednesday was also not returned.
Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.