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CEO of Nonprofit That Ran Scandal-Plagued Inmate Hotel Program Steps Down

Julio Medina, the founder of Exodus Transitional Community, resigns as the nonprofit faces five separate investigations.

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Exodus CEO Julio Medina speaks at a Board of Correction meeting, Sept. 13, 2022.

Screengrab/NYC Board of Correction/YouTube

The CEO of Exodus Transitional Community — hired by City Hall to place released inmates in hotels during the pandemic — is stepping down, just as the group faces multiple investigations, THE CITY has learned.

Julio Medina, a convicted drug dealer who founded Exodus years ago to help the formerly incarcerated get back on their feet, announced Thursday that he would be leaving the organization in the coming weeks but would assist in the transition to new leadership.

Last week Medina suddenly resigned from his position on the city Board of Correction, an independent watchdog that monitors the jails on Rikers Island. At the time he was the board’s chair, one year into a six-year term.

Exodus is now the subject of at least five separate investigations and was recently told it would no longer be running the program to put released inmates into hotels. Starting in January that contract will go to another nonprofit, Housing Works.

Medina has yet to explain why he resigned first from the Board of Correction and now from Exodus. 

On Thursday, in response to THE CITY’s inquiry, Medina and Exodus board chair Michael Luciano announced without elaboration, “After 24 years of transformational service to his community, Julio Medina has decided to step down as our CEO.”

Exodus’ troubles have coincided with its recent expansion.

For years, Exodus won modest city and state contracts for “re-entry services” — providing counseling and life-skills training, and helping released inmates find jobs and learn workplace skills.

The pandemic greatly expanded the group’s mission. The multimillion dollar pandemic-related hotel contract was far bigger than anything it did before. The first year of the pandemic, Exodus’ tax filings show, Medina’s salary hit $300,000, up from $257,000 the prior year.

The hotel contract was by far Exodus’ largest. Hired by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in April 2020, Exodus was awarded a no-bid contract that started at $835,000 and eventually expanded to $121 million.

That contract is the focus of one of the investigations. After THE CITY revealed that Exodus was relying on an unlicensed firm to provide security at the hotels, Mayor Eric Adams asked the city Department of Investigation to find out what happened. The DOI investigation is ongoing.

DOI is also looking at the circumstances surrounding the recent termination of a second Exodus contract, this one for $5 million with the city Department of Correction to provide counseling and job referral services to inmates preparing to be released from Rikers. Five Exodus employees have been accused of misconduct while working inside the jails, including one who was caught smuggling in marijuana.

The state Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) is also looking into how an Exodus caseworker was able to put in paperwork for multiple sessions with clients that never took place, which the organization then billed to Medicaid. Exodus management said they fired the worker and are now cooperating with OASAS.

And the state Department of Labor is looking into allegations by a licensed firm, hired by Exodus to do security at the hotels, that in June Exodus simply stopped paying. That left the company, Presidential Security, and its employees unpaid for thousands of hours of work.

Exodus’ statement announcing Medina’s resignation recounted his decision to create the group years ago while he was serving 12 years in New York state prison, “where he witnessed the profound pain of his peers and their intense desire to transform their lives.”

In the statement, Medina thanked the staff of Exodus, most of whom are formerly incarcerated, and said he was “eternally grateful to every single person that helped in any way — big or small — to build this agency alongside him throughout the years.”

The board of Exodus now intends to launch a national search for his replacement, and they promised “an immediate strategic and operational agency review.” Medina will stay on to assist in the transition, the statement noted. 

 

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