WBZ: Audit: Mass. Spent $48M On Legal Aid Without Proof
December 19, 2011 - The following content was originally published by WBZ.
Massachusetts has spent nearly $48 million on free legal services for the poor without verifying whether those making the claims are truly indigent, according to a new report released Monday by state Auditor Suzanne Bump.
The report looks at the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, the agency responsible for verifying that a person claiming to be poor meets the definition established by the Supreme Judicial Court to be eligible for free legal services.
Bump’s review of fiscal year 2010 records at 27 of the state’s 70 district courts found what she called “near total noncompliance with the indigency verification laws, rules, and regulations.”
Read more from WBZ.
Boston.com: Homeless school children cost Waltham $200,000
December 13, 2011
The city of Waltham's school system paid more than $200,000 over the last two years to meet a federal requirement that it transport and educate homeless children, the state's auditor said today.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump's finding is the second review she conducted recently of the federal requirements. She previously found that Danvers incurred similar costs.
Her office found that Waltham, with less than 1 percent of the state's population, "hosts 12 percent of the homeless families the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) places in motels.''
Representative Thomas Stanley, a Waltham Democrat, said he asked Bump for the review after the state shot down his requests for additional transportation and education funding.
Boston Globe: Dentist accused of bilking state
December 11, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump has accused a Plymouth dental office – SmileCenter at 92 Sandwich St. – of taking a quarter-million dollars in unallowable reimbursements from MassHealth. According to Bump’s office, a review of SmileCenter’s records from fiscal 2007 to 2010 showed “a pervasive pattern of excessive treatments, duplicative payments, and payments for services that were possibly never performed.” In a letter to the state auditor’s office, attorneys for the dental office denied the allegations. “SmileCenter vigorously disputes the draft audit’s conclusions and recommendations, especially any finding, implication or suggestion that it engages in fraud or the provision of medically unnecessary services,’’ they said. Bump’s office advised SmileCenter to change its billing procedures, and advised MassHealth to try to recover the questionable reimbursements.
Worcester Telegram Editorial: Keep on looking
December 10, 2011
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump continues to follow through on her campaign pledge to conduct aggressive audits of state operations. Her latest finding shows that Paul V. LaCava, a high-ranking assistant in the Worcester Family and Probate Court, was working outside teaching jobs during hours he was supposed to be tending to his court duties.
The revelation has not resulted in any disciplinary action, but it has been referred to the State Ethics Commission
We hope they look not just at Mr. LaCava, but at the practices and policies of his boss, Register of Probate Stephen G. Abraham.
The audit found that Mr. Abraham ran his office without proper controls, and added that while Mr. LaCava didn’t complete his duties as head administrative assistant, he did other work, serving in effect as an assistant register of probate — a position for which he lacked minimum education and experience requirements.
In a letter to the auditor’s office, Mr. Abraham defended Mr. LaCava, making clear his employee took the teaching jobs with his knowledge and permission. Mr. Abraham acknowledges that record keeping was “less than adequate.”
We trust the State Ethics Commission will get to the heart of this particular case, but we wonder how many other such cases exist in state government.