Arizona Marijuana Offenders Funded Ritzy Salary of Drug Treatment Firm's CEO

The former CEO of a nonprofit drug-treatment firm that contracts with Maricopa County has made a fortune off of Arizona marijuana offenders, records show.

Barabara Zugor, who retired in 2014, reported earnings from TASC of $360,000 to $476,000 a year since at least 2008, online records show.

In Maricopa County, the Treatment Assessment Screening Center, known by its acronym, TASC, is funded in large part by low-level cannabis offenders.

Without a medical-marijuana card, it's a felony to possess any amount of marijuana in Arizona. But after an arrest, pot-possession defendants typically get the choice by the County Attorney's Office to be convicted of a crime or to participate in TASC. The company has several offices throughout the state, but Maricopa County provides the bulk of its marijuana clients.

In return for participating in TASC, the County Attorney's Office offers first-time offenders deferred prosecution, allowing defendants to avoid a permanent felony or misdemeanor conviction on their records.

Defendants pay up to $1,300 for the program, which includes a mandatory drug-treatment lesson and up to six months of urine testing. Defendants who decline to take the deferred-prosecution deal, and those who fail the urine tests — and, therefore, the TASC program — are prosecuted for a misdemeanor and usually given probation, which includes mandatory drug treatment of some kind. 

Those caught with cocaine, heroin, or other hard drugs can participate in a slightly tougher TASC program, but county documents show that marijuana offenders make up almost 80 percent of the Maricopa County TASC participants each year. In the 12 months preceding July 1, 2015, the county referred 2,356 people to TASC for marijuana out of 3,160 total offenders referred to TASC.

As tax records for the nonprofit firm show, some of these fees were spent enriching Zugor, who retired in 2014 after working for the firm for 37 years.

Zugor was with TASC since it's founding in 1977. Former County Attorney Rick Romley hired TASC in 1989 without a competitive bid, a 1990 New Times article reported.

That article, by writer Ann Walton Sieber, has some other interesting and little-known facts about TASC — like that one of its founding members was Larry Cronin, former head of the County Attorney's Office's Assets and Forfeiture Bureau under Romley. Cronin, who died in 2008, was a TASC board member in 1989 and part owner — with Zugor — of the building that TASC has long used as its headquarters at  2234 North Seventh Street.

Zugor, Cronin, and another partner and TASC executive James Logan, collected more than $100,000 annually from TASC for use of the building in 1989. The lucrative arrangement has continued for years, online online tax records show. In 2013, Zugor and Logan collected $128,389 in rent for the building.

But the rent was nothing compared to Zugor's salary.

In 2013, for instance, the last year for which online nonprofit tax records are available, Zugor made a $180,000 salary, the same records shows, and was awarded a "bonus" of $200,000 approved by TASC's board of directors. TASC had about $18 million in net assets for that year.

The second-highest-paid TASC exec in 2013 was Steve Radvick, Zugor's husband, who earned $140,000. Douglas Kramer, who became the CEO in late 2013 just before Zugor's retirement, reported compensation of $133,475 a year. Radvick and Kramer each received a $25,000 bonus in 2013.

(On a side note, Sieber reported in 1990 that Radvick, while owner of the now-defunct Arizona Institute for Criminal Justice, received a $215,000 grant from the federal government to study the TASC program while he was Zugor's live-in boyfriend, listing his address as the same as TASC's.)

Neither Zugor nor Radvick could be reached for comment.

Zugor "dedicated her life to the TASC cause of bridging the gap between criminal justice and substance-abuse treatment systems," Kramer tells New Times. "She grew our organization from a small single Phoenix in the '70s to where we are today — 18 offices and two forensic drug-testing laboratories, a physical presence in three states, and servicing clientele nationwide."

Kramer declined to expound on the matter, nor confirm if he made a six-digit bonus last year as the new CEO. 

The county has no say in how much the TASC CEO makes, says Fields Moseley, Maricopa County spokesman. A contract signed between TASC and the county in 2009 expires next month, and no new contract has yet been inked.

As a second New Times article on TASC explains today, if Arizona voters legalize cannabis in November, TASC will lose nearly all of its marijuana offenders — and much of its revenue. 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern