Under the Dome

State audit identifies $4.9 million in questionable spending at nonprofit

A state audit of the finances of a Laurinburg-based nonprofit has identified about $4.9 million in questionable spending

Four-County Community Services, which had annual budgets that ranged from $15 million to $21 million between 2009 and 2012, uses money from state and federal agencies to combat poverty by helping low-income individuals and families become self-sufficient.

The audit, released Thursday, found that Four-County spent $670,000 intended for its Head Start and More at Four programs on expenses unrelated to those programs. The organization also used grant money to pay for employees’ gym memberships and board members’ electronic equipment and travel reimbursements.

Four-County violated conflict of interest, nepotism and bidding policies and paid the contractor for its Weatherization Assistance Program for work that was not actually performed, according to the auditor’s report.

The organization also used grant funds to pay $640,800 in bonuses to employees in 2010 and 2011 and spent more than $215,000 in questionable payments to its former executive director, Richard Greene, who has been fired.

“The magnitude and quantity of the deficiencies within this agency merit serious consideration,” the report states.

Four-County Community Services receives funding from the Community Services Block Grant program, Weatherization Assistance program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodities project, among other agencies.

The state Department of Health and Human Services requested a special investigation of the organization after identifying several instances of misuse of state and federal funds.

The report recommends that the funding agencies consider whether Four-County is still the appropriate agency to deliver their services. The report also recommends that the agencies determine whether any of the improperly used funds should be refunded.