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Maragos urges state audit of AIDS group

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos. (March 28, 2011)

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos. (March 28, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, citing a lack of cooperation, has called off an 11-month audit of a not-for-profit AIDS group based in Suffolk and referred the issue to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The Long Island Association for AIDS Care, and its associated agencies, BiasHELP, a not-for-profit focused on prevention of bias crimes, and the Long Island Network of Community Services, which helps nonprofits with fundraising and other functions, are based in Hauppauge.

"We recommend that the State further review LIAAC's affiliated companies, LINCS, and BiasHELP, to ensure proper management and use of public funds," Maragos said in his letter to the agency.

"Contrary to the Comptroller's letter, LIAAC fully cooperated with the financial audit concerning HIV prevention services for 2009-2010," said Andrew Kraus, a spokesman for the agency. "The LIAAC board of directors . . . are outraged that the Comptroller, yet again, has sent out a news release without notifying or asking to meet with the board."

Last May, following media reports that LIAAC's chief executive, Gail Barouh, was earning more than $400,000 a year from multiple employers and after the county refused to renew any contracts with the agency, Maragos announced an audit of the business.

"The lack of transparency by LIAAC, a nonprofit organization, raised very disturbing questions as to how taxpayer money is being spent," Maragos said. "Our discovery that the CEO of this nonprofit was earning over $432,000 in compensation from multiple employers caused further concern."

The agency disputed the salary. A spokeswoman said Barouh made only about $270,000.

It couldn't be confirmed whether the attorney general and state comptroller's offices had received copies of Maragos' letter.

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