Audit: Youth organization overcharged county

September 4, 2008 10:50:54 AM PDT
An audit released Wednesday by Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman revealed that an agency serving troubled youth overcharged Nassau County taxpayers $834,000. According to the audit, the bulk of the overbilling - $426,000 - was the result of a scheme under which the agency billed other counties for the use of beds in a group home already being paid for by Nassau County.

Leadership Training Institute (LTI), a not-for-profit agency, allegedly pocketed money from other counties, which should have gone to Nassau County. According to the audit, other overbilling abuses included charging Nassau County $286,000 for salaries that should have been charged to LTI's other programs; $51,000 for bonuses paid to LTI employees; and approximately $71,000 in other improper charges, such as violent video games and beer.

"It is outrageous that Nassau County taxpayers have been ripped off by the management of the Leadership Training Institute," Weitzman said. "Deeply troubling is that the agency misused funds that could have gone to help our troubled youth. The economic slowdown is putting enormous strains on our budget and funding for important social services programs is in short supply."

The audit covered the years 2003 to 2006 and examined three LTI programs for troubled youth. The most significant findings involved a group home in the Hempstead community that allegedly provided non-secure detention for children aged 10-16, known as Project 29. The limited scope financial audit did not review the quality of LTI's services.

Weitzman says LTI's annual expense budget for 2006 was approximately $2.3 million; since 2003, the County's funding to LTI has grown from $1.5 M (54.9 percent of LTI'' expenses) to $1.8M (82.2 percent) in 2006. LTI's IRS filings for 2003-2006 showed a profit of $714,642.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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