The controversy surrounding Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. expands even further
Documents on file with the Connecticut Superior Court and the City of Bridgeport reveal that while Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. and his family collected more than $8 million dollars from a Midwestern mortgage company that specializes in providing construction loans to evangelical and other churches, the building that Moales built was only a fraction of what was required in the loan agreement and corresponding documents.
Where the rest of the construction money went raises even more questions about Moales’ financial operations.
As Wait, What? readers know, thanks, in part, to the Malloy administration and the administration of Mayor Bill Finch, Reverend Kenneth Moales. Jr and his family are now pulling in close to $1 million a year in state-funded daycare subsidies.
Just last August, the Moales family received their third daycare license from Malloy’s Department of Public Health despite the fact that the building in which the daycare center is housed does not have a permanent certificate of occupancy or the appropriate zoning approvals, both of which are required to get a state daycare license. The same building also houses Moales’ private kindergarten through 8th grade church-owned religious elementary school.
As background for newer Wait What? readers, Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. was appointed by Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s administration to serve on the appointed board that illegally took control of the Bridgeport School system.
After the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the state’s action was illegal, Moales won a seat on the democratically-elected board of education as a member of Bill Finch’s endorsed slate. Moales eventually was named Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and although he lost that position after the last election, he remains a current member of the board.
As a member of the illegal board and then the democratically-elected board, Kenneth Moales Jr. served as corporate education reform guru Paul Vallas’ staunchest supporter. Moales also served as Governor Malloy and Mayor Finch’s point person in the ongoing effort to privatize Bridgeport’s Schools.
Most recently Kenneth Moales Jr. showed up as the biggest champion for Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry’s attempt to open a charter school in Bridgeport, a proposal that was inappropriately rushed through the approval process by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, with the support of Malloy’s appointees to the State Board of Education.
While Moales has had an amazing ride the past couple of years, the bigger question is whether Malloy, Finch and Moales’ other political allies will be able to help Moales with his financial problems including a lawsuit seeking to foreclose on Moales’ church and its properties, including the buildings that house the three daycare centers, the church school and his own residence.
But separate of the foreclosure lawsuit is the fact that Moales and his family improperly billed for their daycare services.
Although the Bridgeport Board of Education was never informed of the problem, when Moales was Chairman of the Board of Education, the family’s daycare centers were caught double billing Bridgeport’s Board of Education and the Connecticut State Department of Education to the tune of $75,000 over a 4 month period in 2013. While the State Department of Education had docked the Bridgeport Board of Education for the funds, it is not clear whether the Board of Education has made an attempt to force Moales to pay back all of the money.
But Moales’ problems are much bigger than billing $75,000 he didn’t have a right to receive. They are even bigger than the questions surrounding how he managed to get a third daycare center license and how that facility is still open when it doesn’t have the proper inspections and zoning approvals.
Moales’ biggest problems are related to the $8 million mortgage that the Moales family received to build their church and the foreclosure effort that is now underway to take all of his properties for failing to pay back that mortgage.
A series of official documents make clear that in early 2006, Kenneth Moales Sr. filed an application to build a “new church facility” that required several waivers and special-permit approval from the City of Bridgeport.
On April 10, 2006, the Connecticut Post reported that the Moales’ church would be a two phase project. Phase I would incorporate a sanctuary and Phase II would incorporate a 500 seat hall, bowling alley, swimming pool, basketball court and classrooms.
In April 2006, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the application with four conditions which included that “All construction shall be in strict accord with plans submitted.”
In May 2006, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the application for a Special Permit “for the establishment of a House of Worship.” The Special Permit approval expired on May 29, 2007. Neither application referenced the establishment of a daycare or a school.
The Building Permit was issued on November 20, 2007, well after the Special Permit expiration of May 29, 2007. The application clearly states that the project was for the construction of a church or selected other uses, but fails to make any reference to a separate permit that would be needed to construct a school or other “Educational 12th Grade or less” building.
In December 2007, Foundation Capital Resources, Inc., the Midwestern mortgage company, approved a first mortgage for $6.1 million. In December 2008, it approved a second mortgage for $1.2 million and in September 2009 approved a third loan for $850,000.
The records indicate that in early 2008, the construction on the new church began and it was apparently completed in late 2010.
The new church opened in early 2011 without ever receiving a Certificate of Occupancy as required by law.
In September 2011, the Connecticut Post ran a story on the ribbon cutting ceremony of the K-8 school. Apparently, as a result of that news story, the Bridgeport Fire Marshal learned of the existence of the school and went to conduct a full inspection.
On September 22, 2011, the inspector wrote, “This building has not completed its CO inspection but is being occupied as an assembly (church) and a school.”
Upon contacting the Zoning Office, the inspector was informed that the school is permitted with a special permit from Planning and Zoning. The only problem is an application for a Special Permit to operate a “school” was never submitted to Planning Zoning; therefore, a Special Permit was never approved or issued.
But putting aside the inspection and approval issues, there is the extraordinary revelation that although the mortgage company provided Moales with all of the construction loan funds, most of “Phase II” of the project was never built. This includes the hall, bowling alley, basketball court and an entire wing of classrooms.
Although the documents lay out the details surrounding the construction of the new church, they provide no information as to why the mortgage company would approve disbursements on the loans when the building project did not adhere to the construction documents nor do they explain what happened to the millions of dollars that were intended for the Phase II construction of the church but apparently used for something else.
If justice is to be served, independent investigations are needed now more than ever.