Expenses of Nassau nonprofit questioned

Travel deals

The Family & Children's Association, a nonprofit social service agency based in Mineola, billed Nassau County for more than $200,000 in unsubstantiated credit card charges and other questionable expenditures, according to county Comptroller George Maragos.

One employee's monthly credit card bill, charged to the county, was nearly $47,000, the audit said. A total of 23 FCA employees have credit cards that they use for Nassau business, some with no spending limit.

Maragos said the agency also charged Nassau $148,837 over two years "for employee salaries for hours when they sent their employees home early due to inclement weather or Agency closings."

"The numerous apparent FCA operating weaknesses, alleged overbilling to the County and failure to acknowledge any shortcomings are disturbing," Maragos said.

The agency's Uniondale-based lawyer, Farrell Fritz, said in a written response to the audit: "Family and Children's Association takes exception to most of the findings of the limited review conducted by the Office of the Comptroller. In most cases, the auditors either did not understand our procedures, did not take additional evidence of our procedures supplied to them into consideration and/or failed to pursue their findings far enough to realize they were inaccurate."

FCA performed $10.8 million in contracted services for Nassau in 2010, according to the most recent figures available. Services the agency provides for Nassau include programs for children with behavioral and substance abuse problems.

Maragos said his office will forward its findings to Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice and County Attorney John Ciampoli for "possible recoupment of funds."

Maragos said he also is advising county departments "to review the effectiveness of their FCA programs in helping the needy in our communities, with a recommendation to consider diversification to other worthwhile agencies." Joyce Mullen, an FCA spokeswoman, said that while FCA disagreed with most of Maragos' findings, "we have expressed our willingness to act on [its] recommendations that support our commitment to continuous quality improvement."

FCA agreed with Maragos that in some instances descriptions of credit card purchases were inadequate. FCA said it would "continue to provide training to all program directors, team leaders and administrative assistants to ensure that proper and complete documentation is provided with all credit card purchases."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

advertisement | advertise on newsday