For Immediate Release - March 08, 2012

Audit: Charlestown Nonprofit Lacks Documentation for $2.3 Million Charged to the State

BOSTON, MA - State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump announced today the results of an audit which found insufficient documentation for $2.3 million in expenses charged to the state by the Life Focus Center (LFC), a Charlestown nonprofit which provides services for disabled persons.  Areas in question include services provided, credit card use, contract billings, payroll, staff bonuses, and travel expenses.

“We are trying to enforce a simple rule – if you want to do business with the state you follow the state’s rules when you spend the money,” said Auditor Bump. “Each year the LFC spends about $2 million in taxpayer dollars but we can’t tell if it was all properly spent because they didn’t keep the records to account for much of it.”

From the period of July 2008 through December 2010, the audit found the LFC claimed to provide $791,307 worth of client services but did not retain adequate documentation to validate the amount of services that were actually provided. According to documents that were retained, billings totaling $536,673 for client services billed did not reconcile to the number of consumers recorded to be in attendance. Documents also showed the LFC charged the state $14,665 to provide services to clients on days they were recorded as absent.

The audit questions as much as $123,173 in credit card expenses charged by the LFC against its state contracts. The LFC’s Executive Director used the credit cards to make numerous purchases at various out-of-state restaurants and shops, including the New Hampshire Liquor Store and a souvenir shop at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The LFC charged the expenses to state contracts as “program supplies” without any documentation identifying the business nature of the expenses.

In addition, the audit disclosed that the LFC charged the state $200,644 in contracted services to relatives of the LFC’s administrators without use of written contracts or a competitive procurement process to hire these individuals. Furthermore, for three years of part-time work, the LFC paid its Staff Director’s husband, whos invoices indicated that he often worked from his home, $183,008
as a consultant to function primarily as a grants writer. In that time the LFC only received $9,284 in grants and the staff Director’s husband failed to adequately document what services were provided and the hours he actually worked. Additionally, the brother-in-law of the Executive Director and the brother-in-law of the Deputy Director were paid $6,600 and $11,036 respectively to provide maintenance services without LFC reporting their compensation to the Internal Revenue Service

Auditor Bump also cited LFC for noncompliance in other areas including:

  • Failure to adequately document the attendance of its administrative staff and to substantiate $1,150,801 in payroll expenses.
  • Use of $48,809 in emergency funds for nonemergency uses, specifically to fund the purchase an agency van and two SMART Tables.
  • Issuing $35,100 in bonuses to staff without the establishing required written policies on bonuses.
  • Charging $38,072 for personal use of agency vehicles without establishing the required written policies for vehicle use or filing the proper tax information relative to the use.
  • Failure of the LFC’s Board of Directors to maintain adequate oversight of the LFC’s operations. Specifically the board did not maintain full membership or proper composition, perform annual reviews of the Executive Director’s salary, participate in the selection of the LFC’s audit firm, or other required duties.

As a result of the audit, Auditor Bump is recommending that the Commonwealth recover $129,982 from the LFC, and calls on the LFC to update its policies and procedures to comply with the terms of its state contracts.

###

Audit Report: Life Focus Center of Charlestown, Inc. pdf format of    Life Focus Center of Charlestown, Inc.