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Overexposed: Sullivan’s solar salesman has dark past


AYER — Within a day of pitching his solar power proposal for town buildings to Ayer selectmen on Oct. 6, word spread that “Sundar” M. Sundaramurthy (real name Malaiperumal Sundaramurthy, 59) is a convicted Level 2 sex offender. And it appears that his credentials aren’t quite what he claimed.

On probation until November 2011, the Gardner resident has been ordered to have no contact with anyone under age 18, except for family members, following his conviction and jail sentence for indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14.

In Sundaramurthy’s solar project proposal to the town, he and his crew would “visit preferred sites” to assess locations, etc. One prime location would likely be on Washington Street, atop the expansive, sunny rooftops at the rambling Ayer school complex.

The possibility set off an alarm for Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski, according to Ayer Selectman Carolyn McCreary, who discussed Sundaramurthy with him before the Oct. 6 meeting. McCreary states knowing the man’s past and therefore grilling him for references and his resume at the meeting. The next day, she faxed to Town Hall initial findings upon researching Sundaramurthy. In addition to flagging a DEP notice against a family-owned convenience store, McCreary sent a 2008 news article that recounts Sundaramurthy’s crimes.

“One of the things is that his company or anybody that works in town would be working at the schools,” McCreary said. “Certainly we don’t want him working anywhere near the schools. Also it’s matter of integrity. We need to trust these people that we hire.”


As confirmed by a review of the records at Gardner District Court by The Public Spirit, in 2001 Sundaramurthy was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a girl under 14. He was not related to the victim. Records indicate he was also previously charged with two complaints of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 16.

Sentenced in 2001 to two years in jail, Sundaramurthy served four months, was placed on lifetime parole, and remains on probation through November 2011. Originally he could return to work at the Gardner EZ Mart Store in Union Square in Gardner, owned by Navin Enterprises, his wife’s corporation. Navin Enterprises is the same corporation seeking to install solar arrays on town-owned land in Ayer and Shirley.

However, in September 2007, Sundaramurthy was found to be in violation of his probation when he had unsupervised contact with a girl under 18. Judge Patrick Fox barred Sundaramurthy from working again at the Gardner EZ Mart gas station/convenience store at Union Square.

In a letter to selectmen signed by Mrs. Sundaramurthy, Navin Enterprises LLC provides an address of 2 Shaker Way in Shirley in the Phoenix Office Park. However, the Secretary of State’s office lists the location of Navin Enterprises LLC as the store’s address in Gardner.

In making his plea to the judge in November 2005, Sundaramurthy said he was the eighth child in a family of 12 and a native of India. He said he was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, an inventor and an active member in the Boston Indian community. He said he spent a lot of time with his children, interacting with their school. He reported seeing his parole officer bi-weekly and his sex therapist weekly. He wrote, “I have been doing all the things that I am supposed to do and avoid things that I am not supposed to do to be a good citizen.” The statement began “for a crime I did not commit, I spent four months at Worcester House of Corrections.”


On that statement, Sundaramurthy provided a brief resume. It stated that he was “technical staff, MIT Lincoln Lab” from 1982 to 1985. That court filing seems to run contrary to his statement to the Ayer Board of Selectmen and what he apparently told Selectman Connie Sullivan, who introduced Sundaramurthy to his board.

Before the Oct. 6 board meeting, Sullivan faxed a handwritten request to Suhoski seeking space on the meeting agenda. “Please put on at 7 p.m. for ? hour Mr. Shanthy Sundaramurthy, President of Navin Enterprises, LLC.” The presenter that evening was not wife Shanthy Sundaramurthy as Sullivan wrote, rather it was husband Malaiperumal Sundaramurthy. Sullivan also wrote, “He is a former professor of electrical engineering at MIT…”

At the outset of his presentation Sundaramurthy stated to the selectmen, “I am an electrical engineer by training. I was a professor at MIT… a while ago. I have 15-20 years of teaching experience.”

Yet the resume Sundaramurthy provided to the selectmen’s office in advance of Tuesday’s meeting backpeddles. While he claims to have been an Assistant Professor at Norwich University in Vermont from 1979 through 1982, his MIT reference states that he was “Staff, MIT Lincoln Lab., Lexington, MA” from 1982 to 1985.

MIT Lincoln Labs HR Administrative Assistant Carol Phillips confirmed that Sundaramurthy was part of “technical staff” from 1982 through 1985. As to whether that position can also be known as “professor,” Phillips paused before answering, “professor — I don’t know anything about that” before restating his technician status.

McCreary was not impressed with Sundaramurthy’s resume or track record on solar projects. “He came in with this story that sounded fantastic, then you look at this record and he’s not the MIT professor that he said he was and he doesn’t have a vast amount of experience in this field,” said McCreary.

“It all paints a picture of someone that should not be hired by the town,” she said.


Sullivan said Shirley Selectman Enrico Cappucci mentioned the solar idea in August, and Sullivan was “briefed” by Shirley Selectman Andy Deveau again more recently before Sullivan introduced Sundaramurthy during a “meeting at a common client.” Sullivan did not identify the common client.

Sullivan said on Sunday, “I actually happened to run into him at a ground-breaking ceremony for a client that was expanding his business in Pepperell. I met him, inquired to what he was doing. That’s why I had him come down and do his presentation. It was after the fact that he came with some baggage.”

According to an employee at Gardner District Court, Sundaramurthy’s Valentine’s Day 2001 arrest was shocking and a fairly notorious news event for the Gardner area. Gardner is Suhoski’s hometown where as a former one-term city councilor and city employee, he’s in touch with city events. McCreary said Suhoski mentioned to her before the Oct. 6 meeting a feeling that the man needed to be researched further.

“It rang a bell for Shaun and it was in the Gardner paper. I wouldn’t have done this investigation but Shaun suggested there might be issues. …it was certainly enough investigation for me to say we cannot hire this guy,” she said.

“Shaun had raised the red flag before the meeting,” said McCreary. “He didn’t say that he knew it for certain. He said this sounds like someone who has been in trouble.”

Ayer Selectman Gary Luca was agitated to hear that Suhoski’s recollections about Sundaramurthy were not shared with the full Board of Selectmen in advance of the Oct. 6 meeting. “Maybe I am a little upset that one selectman knew in advance. I’ve been talking a lot about transparency and being up front and not having an agenda.”

When asked if he meant that in reference to McCreary or Suhoski, Luca said, “either side, both. …I would like to think if one of my colleagues had information that was viable information they would share it with their colleagues so they can make the proper determination on whatever it may be.”

Suhoski agreed. “He’s absolutely correct regarding that, to the extent that I’m able to reach all five selectmen in advance by phone, I do endeavor to do that. In this case, there are two selectmen I didn’t get to.”

Suhoski says for unrelated reasons, he’s going to recommend to the selectmen Tuesday night that a move to contract with any consultant be put on hold for the time being. He says he’s already alerted Sundaramurthy and Navin Enterprises of his recommendation.

“We need to understand the budget situation, get through the fall Town Meeting and that we solicit a field of others …so that the process is a little more vetted,” said Suhoski. “The board is very interested in solar power and we need some technical assistance on that.”


A spokesman for the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board says it’s required that all Level 2 and 3 sex offenders register with the police department in both the town in which they live and in any town where they work for seven or more days. “Sundar” Sundaramurthy is listed officially as a consultant for Navin Enterprises before the Shirley and Ayer selectmen. Navin provides a business address to the towns as Shirley. Also, Sundaramurthy has repeatedly touted the six months of work just concluded on the private solar area he helped facilitate at Phoenix Park in Shirley.

Nashoba Publishing correspondent ME Jones visited the Shirley Police Department to see if Sundaramurthy was registered there. According to Officer Everett Moody, who is in charge of Sex Offender Registration at the Shirley Police Department, Mr. Sundaramurthy has not registered in that town.

Presently, the town of Ayer is advertising to find a new economic development director. At the close of the advertisement, it reads, “CORI check req’d.” An acronym for Criminal Offender Record Information, a CORI check is a common practice in public and private human resources settings.

Sullivan agrees there is a need for uniform employee and subcontractor CORI checks. “I think so. I think it raises an issue on behalf of public safety.” But he added, “The question it raised with Sundar is to what extent are you coming back to town and involved with the project. They might be doing work at the home office. He would not have to be on school grounds. His involvement physically in our town would not be called for (but) I think that’s something the board should know.”

As to whose job it is to validate a subcontractor’s background and credentials to work for the town of Ayer, Suhoski said, “We don’t have an official (CORI) policy although we’ve been pursuing a policy on it. Most of our contracts have nothing to do with the schools so this is unique.”

“It may be that the feeling was the staff was moving too slow or that we weren’t pursuing this strategy fast enough. If we fell down we fell down,” said Suhoski. “But in my opinion, we should have staff do research before candidates come before the board.”


On Sunday, Sullivan initially said he’d still stand by the Navin Enterprises proposal and let the board decide on the plan’s merits. “I’ve called Sundar and inquired about his background. Although he was the spokesman before our board, his wife is the owner of the company. I asked him if he has ‘any need to be back in town if we do business with your company’ and he said ‘no.'”

“The issue as I see it with the background that he has, number one, he’s probably on some kind of probation status where he needs to keep away from kids. Public safety is first and foremost. How do we accommodate that?” said Sullivan.

“Does it add some color to this? Yes. Should we not do business with an employee who has these violations? This man has done his time,” said Sullivan. “Is it unfortunate? I think it is. Does it prohibit the town from doing business with him? No. It’s not a one-man company. There are several people involved.”

But after hearing of Sundaramurthy’s downgraded MIT credentials, failure to register as a sex offender in Shirley, and Navin Enterprises’ history of tax liens for non-payment of state sales, cigarette and tobacco taxes for their Gardner store, Sullivan wavered.

“I didn’t understand from the handout that the mini mart had anything to do with Navin Enterprises, LLC. If it’s in there, it’s in there,” he said before adding, “I’m surprised that a mini mart with a liquor license is the same business as Navin Enterprises that we were represented was an electrical engineering firm.”

A check of the Registry of Deeds indicates that there have been a series of Massachusetts Department of Revenue tax liens placed on both Shanthy Sundaramurthy’s 23 Elm St., Gardner home and against the EZ Mart itself, all with regard to Navin Enterprises, LLC. The liens covered several consecutive monthly periods between 2006 and 2008 and are related to non-payment of sales, cigarette and tobacco taxes. Some liens have been lifted, but according to the Communications Office at the DOR, the amount outstanding remains above $11,000. As with other collection matters, the sums remain outstanding despite many notice opportunities to come current, according to a DOR spokesman.

The Public Spirit has confirmed that Shanthy Sundaramurthy personally has an outstanding Chapter 13 (debt reorganization and payment plan) filing pending in the Worcester bankruptcy court, as well as a closed prior 1998 Chapter 7 (debt liquidation & elimination) bankruptcy filing in Boston.

When contacted on this matter Monday afternoon, Sundaramurthy stated that he had no comment and that his lawyer advised him not to say anything. “I’d lke to decline politely,” he said.

As to whether he’ll appear at the Tuesday, Oct. 20 selectmen’s meeting, Sundaramurthy said he hadn’t decided yet.