State audit uncovers fraud

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ATLANTA --- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting investigations into the state's operation of a job-assistance program run by the Georgia Department of Human Services with federal stimulus money and dozens of the employers who participated, state officials revealed Thursday.

Additional participants are the subject of inquiries by the department, and still others have been referred to the attorney general's office to seek repayment of funds. The department turned three Atlanta area companies over to local prosecutors.

A state audit released Thursday morning described the program as plagued by poor judgment and criminal behavior.

"Apparent fraud, waste and abuse in (the) low-income jobs program likely resulted from mismanagement and weak controls in the central office," wrote investigators at the Georgia Department of Audits & Accounts.

A whistle-blower complaint in January led to the probe of the Adult Subsidized Employment Program. It found that 48 of the contractors in the program were already being investigated by the GBI or Human Services' inspector general at the time they were awarded contracts and that managers simply looked the other way.

Of the 579 contractors, two out of three weren't eligible anyway, and 23 percent of the job seekers in the program might have also been ineligible if auditors could have found sufficient documentation.

According to the auditors' report, $400,000 in computers purchased with the federal funds were still in boxes.

The $23 million program was part of the state's $165 million stimulus grant that was designed to quickly find work for people receiving welfare benefits. Their benefits were supposed to end once they were getting a paycheck, but the auditors think the workers got both because the central office never notified the county welfare offices that workers' incomes had increased.

Employers recruited to the program were to receive a subsidy that paid 80 percent of the wages of the qualified job seekers they hired.

The auditors interviewed Human Services' project manager over the program, Eli Phillips, about his approval of employers who had not met all of the eligibility criteria.

"When questioned about his decision to approve these applications, Mr. Phillips contented that not all of the eligibility criteria had to be met by the prospective employers," the auditors wrote.

His staff disagreed with him.

"Mr. Phillips' explanation did not seem credible to us as there were many prospective employers rejected because not all eligibility criteria had been met," the audit team wrote.

The GBI has investigations into 10 employers in the Albany area, according to GBI spokesman John Bankhead.

Wes Sherrell, the chief investigative auditor for Audits & Accounts, said that there also were numerous irregularities with employers in the Atlanta and Savannah areas and that there could be more.

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Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 06/16/11 - 11:09 am
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We have prisons to house

We have prisons to house people who steal public monies.

faithson
5133
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faithson 06/16/11 - 01:37 pm
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sounds like the ole Charlie

sounds like the ole Charlie Walker network is up and running at the state house. It's time to implement extreme consequences. pulling fingernails is not good enough for those who intentionally defraud the people.

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 06/16/11 - 01:53 pm
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FRAUD AND WASTE in a

FRAUD AND WASTE in a government program?????? You have GOT to be kidding!!!! These auditors must be mistaken.

faithson
5133
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faithson 06/16/11 - 02:45 pm
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Lets hope the 6.2 BILLION

Lets hope the 6.2 BILLION (cash, 100 dollar bills) shipped to Iraq and unaccounted for gets as much attention.

seenitB4
85294
Points
seenitB4 06/16/11 - 08:07 pm
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0
We may as well take the $$$ &

We may as well take the $$$ & burn it...this is one stupid country---waste--- fraud--steal---giveaways---but yet we cut police-library-firemen........:(:(
Now talk of cutting medicare--we will have riots here..

wondersnevercease
9218
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wondersnevercease 06/17/11 - 07:04 am
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Yes my friends...barry and
Unpublished

Yes my friends...barry and his ilk again = fraud and theft...surprised?.....nah thats change you can believe in...

2012 the year of hope and salvation for America!

Piperpig
9
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Piperpig 06/17/11 - 09:17 am
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Wondersnevercease: You can

Wondersnevercease: You can debate the stimulus program all day, but this fraud and theft occurred at the state level. I don't know what the political makeup is of Human Resources' governing board, but this state is currently run by the Republican Party. There was a time (as short as 10 years ago) when Democrats controlled Georgia. That time has passed. To blame mismanagement on Obama seems a bit absurd.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 06/17/11 - 08:20 pm
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Im shocked! I was also

Im shocked! I was also shocked when the sun came up today.

hounddog
0
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hounddog 06/17/11 - 09:26 pm
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The stimulus was basically a
Unpublished

The stimulus was basically a slush fund for the community organizer and his friends.

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