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Audit: Nonprofit that helps abuse victims overcharged Suffolk by $370,000

A nonprofit that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault overcharged Suffolk County by nearly $370,000 over three years, according to an audit by Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy.

The Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk overreported expenditures by $138,981 in 2014, primarily because of a lack of internal controls for processing payroll expense claims, the audit found. The comptroller’s office found inconsistencies between hours worked and salaries claimed for the county program, among other issues.  

Another audit in April found the agency — now under new management — overreported a total of $231,000 in expenditures in 2015 and 2016. Kennedy said he is required by law to try to recover the money.

“The wasting of any public dollars is offensive and heinous, but when you’re talking about money committed to taking care of battered women and at-risk children, the public should be outraged,” Kennedy said Tuesday.

The nonprofit Independent Group Home Living Program, Inc. took over the bureau at the end of 2016. Brian Egan, an attorney for IGHL, said in a statement it was "disappointing the county feels it necessary to attack an agency that has served thousands of sexual assault and crime victims. We have spent many agency hours working with this audit and diverting resources intended to help survivors of sexual crimes to satisfy the audit of an operational period whose books were closed out years ago.”

Mary Beth Lichtneger, IGHL's chief fiscal officer, said in a letter responding to the audit that the agency plans to incorporate the audit’s recommendations as best practices.

The bureau assists abuse victims with a hotline, counseling and services.

Kennedy, a Republican, is challenging Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in November.

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