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Prison Re-Entry Chief Sacked Due To Outstanding Criminal Cases

Sundiata Keitazulu, appointed to head New Haven, Connecticut's prisoner reentry program, resigned from that $50,000 a year post on February 26, 2014, after being advised he was going to be fired due to two open criminal cases.

Keitazulu was appointed to the job by newly-elected mayor Toni Harp, against whom Keitazulu ran his mayoral campaign.  A former plumber, the outspoken Democrat surprised many observers by resigning and endorsing the candidacy of the front-runner Harp.  His run for office represented a long journey from his past; Keitazulu once served ten years in prison for selling cocaine under his former name, John Anthony Denby.  He averred that he had turned his back on crime after being paroled in 2005 and sought to help former prisoners reenter the community.

Unfortunately, Keitazulu had two open cases when appointed by the mayor, which made it impossible for him to enter most prisons, thereby making it "impossible for him to do his job," said City Human Resources Manager Stephen Librandi.  City bylaws do not prevent those with a criminal record from employment, but the nature of the post required access to penal facilities, said Librandi, so Keitazulu was let go.

While city officials did not publicly disclose the reason for Keitazulu's resignation, he apparently decided to go public with the story after initially claiming that he resigned over a dispute over his job duties.  "I could not do the job I was assigned to do," Keitazulu told the New Haven Independent.  "They were telling me stuff, but I didn't want to be told what to do."

After the real reason why Keitazulu was sacked became known, he confirmed the existence of the cases.  One, he said, was for driving his cousin to cash bad checks.  "I did not go into that store," he said.  "I did not write a check.  I did not use my ID for anything . . . yeah, I gave him a ride, yeah."

As to the other case, Keitazulu was accused of driving away from, and almost hitting, a cop after undercover officers drew guns on him without showing their badges, he said.  Keitazulu failed to appear for a court appearance and a warrant was issued.  He told the press, "I forgot about it; I actually forgot about it."

Keitazulu said that, for now, he could go back to being a plumber, but promised to run for office again next year.



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