LOWELL -- Police Superintendent William Taylor has penalized the United Teen Equality Center, or UTEC, about $124,000 for what he perceived was the anti-violence agency's advocacy for two Lowell men accused in high-profile gun-related crimes, one a shooting.

"UTEC's actions caused us to rethink our commitment to the agency in terms of financial backing," Taylor said Friday. A portion of the penalty is permanent: $24,000 in annual rent the Police Department would have paid UTEC for a re-entry center in a UTEC-owned building. Taylor and City Manager Kevin Murphy both said the program has been scuttled.

But the larger portion of the penalty, $100,000, is funds from a state grant the police department receives annually known as Safe and Successful Youth Initiative grant. Normally, UTEC would receive those funds. Taylor has decided to redirect that amount to another Lowell non-profit whose goals are similar to those of UTEC: promoting safety and respect among the city's young people.

Which agency is a beneficiary of UTEC's poor judgment hasn't been determined, Taylor said.

"Assuming UTEC can rebuild its relationship with the police department and the city, which I believe it can, we'll revisit the issue in about six months," Taylor said. The superintendent added he hopes to resume fully funding the agency in time. "UTEC has done a lot of good work and the relationship we've developed over the years has been too important to let it go.


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City Manager Kevin Murphy supports Taylor's handling of the matter, but declined to comment specifically on the penalty. In discussing earlier this week UTEC's behavior that led to the penalty, Murphy said: "It is unfortunate UTEC engaged in this kind of behavior and the sanctions imposed are warranted," Murphy said. "Hopefully, over time, UTEC can work its way back into the good graces of the Lowell Police Department."

At the heart of the issue are cases against Leroy Mey, 21, and Sungba Dy, 23, both of Lowell.

At a Jan.7 dangerousness hearing in Lowell District Court, Judge Elizabeth Cremens ordered Mey held without bail as a danger to society after he pleaded not guilty to three counts of armed assault with intent to murder, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, and carrying a firearm without a license.

At a dangerousness hearing for Dy early this month, Lowell District Court Judge Ellen Caulo released Dy on several conditions. They included: That Dy abide by an 8 p.m.-to- 8 a.m. curfew; he wear a GPS monitoring device; he enroll in a UTEC anti-violence course; and that he "stay away" from 21-23 A St., the scene of the alleged crime.

UTEC street workers appeared at both hearings. Additionally, UTEC street workers wrote a letter to the court referring to Dy, which Taylor interpreted as overly supportive toward the suspect.

The short letter, signed by Streetworker Manager Jonathan Lunde, states: "I'm writing on behalf of the United Teen Equality Center's Streetworker team, regarding Sungba Dy. Our team has worked with Sungba via our street outreach efforts as well as through the outreach we do behind the wall at Billerica House of Corrections. The UTEC Streetworkers are committed to continue working with Sungba in whatever capacity we are able to. We are here today to make sure both the court and Sungba know that we are committed to providing services to him. Additional services could also be a connection with our workforce program and education programs. If you have any questions or concerns regarding Sungba or this letter, please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience."

The courtroom appearances, and the writing of the letter, we both sanctioned by UTEC Executive Director Gregg Croteau.

Following UTEC's involvement with Mey, the agency was warned by Taylor that its behavior was unacceptable in that it was perceived as "going against" the police department. He and other top city officials lost their patience with UTEC when they learned of the agency's subsequent involvement with Dy.

Croteau has not publicly discussed UTEC's involvement in either case. The spokesman for the agency, formed in 1999, is Richard Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is chairman of UTEC's Board of Directors and lawyer in the downtown Lowell law form of Gallagher and Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh said Friday he hasn't seen the details of the city's penalty, but there were delivered to UTEC offices Friday.

"The board will review them while making sure that the lines of communication with the police department remain open," he said.

Earlier this week, Cavanaugh was contrite in discussing UTEC's actions and said the agency is re-evaluating its involvement in such cases.

Mey turned himself in to police Dec. 24, six days after police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with a triple shooting on Chelmsford Street in what police say was a botched drug deal. One man was shot in the back of the head, another in the back and shoulder, and a third in the hand. The shooting took place just after 3 p.m., only moments after students were released for the day from Lincoln Elementary School across the street. Mey is due back in court May 8.

The incident involving Dy is more recent. He was ordered held without bail on April 2 in Lowell District Court after pleading not guilty to charges of breaking and entering daytime, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer (two counts), disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of ammunition, two counts of carrying a loaded firearm without a license, carrying a firearm without a license, and illegal possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Follow Christopher Scott on Twitter and Tout @cscottlowellsun.