HAC CEO Rick Presbrey To Appear In Court on Threats

Rick Presbrey

Rick Presbrey

HYANNIS – Housing Assistance Corporation CEO Frederic Presbrey has been issued a summons to appear in Barnstable District Court on a misdemeanor charge of making a threat to commit murder on a family that accused his wife of stealing pills.

An employee at Housing Assistance Corporation told police that Presbrey had made a threatening comment.

Presbrey, who founded the agency more than 40 years ago, is due in court on the charges on June 22.

Reached today by phone, Presbrey denies the charges. “I have no violent tendencies whatsoever. All we were trying to do in this case is to go way out of our way to help a family in need,” he said.

Last week, Presbrey’s wife, Melanie Powers, was in court, accused of stealing prescription opiate pills from the home of a family that was renting a house from her.

The family are the ones that Presbrey is accused of threatening.

In the case of Melanie Powers, the family installed a video camera and released photos of Powers searching for and finding prescription pills in their kitchen. The drugs stolen over several months were oxycodone, morphine, Ketamine, Dilaudid and diszepam. Powers was formerly chief financial officer at the Woods Hole Research Center. She left that job in October 2014, according to a spokesperson at the Woods Hole Research Center. Previously, she was chief financial officer at the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Powers pleaded not guilty to the charge of stealing the medications.

In the case involving Presbrey, according to the police report, Presbrey was seeking to get affordable housing for the family, who have two disabled children. The children have a rare genetic disease that has required multiple surgeries. The father of the family worked as a landscaper at Presbrey’s home.

Presbrey had arranged for a home to be constructed on HAC-owned property in Sandwich using both agency funds and a grant Presbrey had arranged for the project from the Lorusso Charitable Foundation. But in recent months, the family had learned from Presbrey that the Sandwich project could not go forward.

Presbrey had asked them to find another home to buy using the grant funds. With the assistance of HAC, the family found a home on Captain Baker Road in Marstons Mills. The house was purchased using the Lorusso funds and HAC funds. It was deeded to HAC with the family having a lease and an option to purchase the house.

But the terms of the lease, delivered to the family on May 21, were not acceptable to them, according to the police report. The family decided not to sign the lease.

The next day, on May 22, a HAC employee said Presbrey was red-faced and agitated about the situation with the family, the police report said. That is when he allegedly said, “I’m going to go kill them and then turn myself in to the police.”

Diana Pisciotta, a spokesperson from Denterlein, a public relations firm hired by the agency to handle communication about the situation, said Presbrey is on leave from the agency.

In an interview with CapeCod.com, Presbrey said he is on paid leave. Michael Sweeney, vice president administration and finance, and Nancy Davidson, vice president of program operations, are running the agency while he is on leave.

David Augustinho, chairman of the board of directors of Housing Assistance Corporation, issued the following statement: “Housing Assistance Corporation is committed to providing its clients and the community with services and support in a fair and respectful manner. We take the charges against our President and CEO seriously.

“Immediately upon learning of issues related to the President’s interactions and comments regarding a client family, the Housing Assistance Corporation Board of Directors began an internal review.”

Augustinho continued, “The Board is fully committed to an independent investigation of all aspects of Mr. Presbrey’s relationship with the family, any comments made about or to the family, and any violation of Housing Assistance Corporation policies on communications, conflict of interest and procedures for supporting clients. At this time, Mr. Presbrey has taken a leave of absence.

“During this period, Nancy Davison and Michael Sweeney will be responsible for operations and management of the organization. We are confident that this issue will have no impact on our continued ability to provide critical affordable housing and related services to the resident of Cape Cod,” the statement ended.

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