- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Hope Community Development Agency, a nonprofit in Biloxi, is paying a $500 fine over alleged violations of Mississippi’s charity reporting laws.

The nonprofit agency was created by former Biloxi City Councilman Bill Stallworth after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to rebuild housing in East Biloxi.

The state secretary of state’s office and the nonprofit entered into a consent agreement which lead to the fine.

Examiners from the secretary of state’s office reported Hope appeared to be “flipping houses” for profit rather than operating as a charity. Hope represented that it had bought and sold only one real estate investment property since 2006.

Stallworth has said Hope was investing in real estate to raise money for its nonprofit mission.

Hope has agreed to report to the state any future income from investment properties.

“We have to try to get back to helping people the way that we were helping them before. At the end of the day, we did what we were attempting to do, and that was to keep the best records we know how to keep and be good stewards of the money given to us. I know we did that,” Hope’s chairman Warren Conway, a Gulfport attorney, told The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1zlkogn ).

Part of the consent agreement require Hope to review its system for grant-fund accounting, so income and expenses are shown for each grant, and expenses are documented with bills and receipts.

Hope also must continue to comply with 2012 and 2013 audit recommendations to tag inventory, track fixed assets and initiate a system to keep up with inventory.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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