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THE INSIDE TRACKROMLEY AIDE MAKES MONEY OFF TASC RENT

A top lieutenant in County Attorney Richard Romley's drug war makes money from TASC, the private agency hired by Romley's office to treat offenders in the vaunted Do Drugs/Do Time program.

Romley's office hired TASC in 1989--without competitive bidding--to run its "diversion" program, which treats first-time drug offenders. The County Attorney's Office sends the offenders to TASC for counseling and drug- screening. In return, TASC collects fees from the offenders and divvies up the money with the County Attorney's Office. Since the arrangement began in March 1989, TASC has funneled more than $700,000 from drug offenders into the County Attorney's Office.

At the same time, deputy county attorney Larry Cronin, chief of Romley's Assets and Forfeiture Bureau makes money from his business dealings with TASC executive director Barbara Zugor. The two, along with TASC board president James Logan, own the TASC headquarters complex at 2234 North Seventh Street and collect more than $100,000 annually in rent from TASC, according to Maricopa County records and TASC's federal income tax returns. The complex, which was purchased from a California development firm, has a current assessed evaluation of $479,644.

Cronin has been a board member of TASC since 1979. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1987, Cronin was paid $4,750 for twelve hours of work that year as TASC treasurer, according to federal tax returns. In July 1987, Cronin, Zugor, and Logan purchased the office complex. The following month, TASC began leasing it from the trio. TASC paid an "annual minimum rent" of $106,260, according to TASC's federal tax returns for the year ending June 30, 1989.

Zugor and Logan did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Neither did Cronin. Romley told New Times that he hasn't "confirmed" whether Cronin co-owns the building. Asked if Cronin has a conflict of interest, Romley said, "Absolutely not." He said Cronin "has no role" in decisions regarding TASC. Romley refused further comment.

Romley has defended TASC, saying it gives the County Attorney's Office "the biggest bang for the buck." That is difficult to determine because no contract exists between TASC and the County Attorney's Office, only a "memorandum of understanding." Because of that, TASC's performance is not subject to a formal review by contract administrators.

Romley has declared that no contract is necessary. But he has acknowledged to New Times that "it is time" for his office to evaluate the job TASC has done in the Do Drugs/Do Time program.

A federally funded examination of the program is being conducted under a $214,694 grant awarded to Steve Radvick, the live-in boyfriend of TASC executive director Zugor. Radvick founded TASC in Arizona in the Seventies before turning it over to Zugor. He currently owns the Arizona Institute for Criminal Justice, a for-profit consulting firm that lists the same address as TASC.

Romley expressed surprise in a recent interview with New Times when told of the relationship between Zugor and Radvick.

TASC's most recent financial statement for its diversion program shows a net loss of $25,022 for the year ending June 30, 1990, and Zugor is currently requesting from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office a larger cut of their shared proceeds.

Romley has defended TASC, saying it gives the County Attorney's Office "the biggest bang for the buck.

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Ann Walton Sieber