BEVERLY — A former associate vice president with Beverly Hospital and Northeast Health System tied to the alleged theft of artwork that once hung at Addison Gilbert Hospital pleaded guilty Monday to soliciting bribes and kickbacks from hospital contractors and stealing valuable paintings and other antiques while overseeing a $50 million renovation of the facility.
Paul Galzerano, 60, was sentenced to serve 18 months of a two-year jail term on four larceny counts and two years of probation on two counts of commercial bribery during a hearing yesterday at Salem Superior Court. He'll start serving his sentence May 30.
The attorney general's office, which put Galzerano's total thefts at nearly $400,000, was seeking four to five years in state prison.
But Judge Howard Whitehead said Galzerano has already paid a high price. He lost the Groveland home that he'd arranged for hospital contractors to work on, or make payments toward, in exchange for lucrative hospital contracts. And police have recovered the antiques and artwork he stole.
Galzerano now lives in a shelter for homeless veterans in New Bedford.
"He has essentially been destroyed," said Whitehead, who suggested that ordering restitution for the "penniless" Galzerano would be pointless.
One contractor who has admitted to taking part in the scheme, Brian Lemay, has paid $210,000 in restitution to the hospital as part of the disposition in his case, which also sent him to jail for six months.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Doherty told the judge that, over a period of more than three years, between 2003 and 2007, Galzerano engaged in a systematic shakedown of contractors interested in being hired to work on the project.
Galzerano, the prosecutor said, treated the hospital "as if it was a warehouse where he could take what he wanted."
Lemay, of New Hampshire, funneled $260,000 to Galzerano in exchange for work on the project; a second contractor, Tom Gendron, kicked back $95,000, Doherty told the judge.
Inflated bids would be submitted to the hospital, which had designated Galzerano to take care of the selection and hiring of contractors.
Another contractor did nearly $10,000 worth of paving work at Galzerano's home, which was set back from Main Street in Groveland, facing the Merrimack River. That contractor, Alfred Consolo of Methuen, later admitted to submitting a bill for the work to the hospital, claiming it was for work done there.
Doherty also told the judge that Galzerano stole a grandfather clock and two paintings, including a seascape by Rockport artist Stanley Wingate Woodward (1890-1970), claiming he was putting them in storage and instead sending them to his home.
Similarly, several antiques purchased by Galzerano at an Essex shop were billed to the hospital as furnishings for the new addition, but actually wound up in Galzerano's home.
The total value of those items, which were found by police who had gone to the home during an investigation into a dispute with his neighbors, was put around $25,000.
William Donaldson, a vice president and general counsel to Northeast Health System, said Galzerano was brought in to oversee "the biggest single construction project in the history of the hospital" because of his expertise. He was offered what Donaldson described as a "competitive" salary and a higher title than would be typically offered as a reflection of the trust and confidence the hospital had placed in him.
"Clearly, this was very difficult for the management of the hospital and the trustees," Donaldson said. Most troubling, he said, was Galzerano's "complete lack of any concern that he was stealing from a charitable institution."
Defense lawyer Scott Gleason urged leniency for Galzerano, saying that a troubled childhood and a history of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as an "excruciating divorce," led him to commit the crimes.
"It's a tragic story," Gleason told the judge, saying Galzerano was made a ward of the state when he was 9 and has no family.
The judge said he was taking that into account, as well as the fact that the hospital has been repaid at least some of the money it overpaid on contracts and has had the valuables returned.
The judge also ordered Galzerano to perform 20 hours a week of community service at the shelter in New Bedford where he has been living and where he'll return when released from jail.
Because he received a house of correction term and not state prison time, Galzerano will be eligible for parole in nine months.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or email@example.com.