Friday, March 20, 2009
Records: Second Chance Owes $672K
By Jeff Proctor
Journal Staff Writer
When Second Chance officials hastily vacated the old West Side jail in January, they left more than an empty building and a lot of unanswered questions, according to city and county court filings.
Second Chance owes more than $600,000 in tax liens, according to records in the Bernalillo County Assessor's Office. About $400,000 is due to the IRS, and more than $200,000 to the state.
Second Chance also owes the city of Albuquerque more than $17,000 in unpaid utility bills and is delinquent on about $55,000 in unpaid rent, which is due to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority.
Officials are considering whether to file a lawsuit against Second Chance for the rent and utility bills. It is unclear whether the state or federal governments will take action against Second Chance.
Neither Joy Westrum, president of Second Chance, nor her husband, Rick Pendery, who is also listed as a Second Chance administrator, could be reached for comment.
Second Chance officials pulled the last of their inmates out of the old West Side jail on Jan. 24, marking an abrupt end to the drug rehab program's controversial two-plus years there. The 20 or so inmates were taken back to the jurisdictions from which they had been sentenced.
City officials had given Second Chance until Jan. 31 to vacate the building. The city terminated the program's lease for violations that included housing violent offenders and making unauthorized changes to the building.
The liens were filed against Second Chance starting in December 2007 about a year and a half after the Scientology-based secure rehab center for drug offenders opened. The most recent liens were filed last month. Two separate entities are named in the liens: Second Chance Program Inc., and Second Chance Center New Mexico LLC.
Second Chance Program is a private nonprofit company. Second Chance Center is a private for-profit corporation, its officials told the Journal in 2006. Westrum and Pendery have never elaborated on the specific roles or functions of the two entities.