NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The heads of a Camden-based nonprofit organization have been charged with theft of taxpayer funds after an investigation discovered nearly $733,000 in unauthorized disbursements.
The comptroller’s office says its investigation of the ABC Nutrition Program revealed troubling problems at the nonprofit. ABC administers federal grant funds from the Tennessee Department of Human Services to reimburse day cares across the state for food programs. Officials say the stolen money involves unapproved administrative fees, much of it used for bonuses and extra pay to managers and employees of ABC.
“It’s a lot of taxpayer money, and one of the things that caused this to happen is ABC Nutrition Program Inc. did not have an independent board of directors,” investigative audit manager Kevin Huffman said.
Comptroller Justin Wilson sharply criticized DHS its lack of monitoring of ABC.
“The results of this investigation are extremely troubling,” Wilson said in a written statement. “Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been misspent by this organization over a five year period. This underscores the importance of effective program monitoring and oversight.”
ABC is led by chief executive Vivian Parker and her two daughters, Lisa Carter and Tracy Coady. All have been charged with theft over $250,000 and theft over $60,000. A family attorney was not immediately available to comment.
The investigation found that ABC received unauthorized pay totaling about $606,000. The mother and her daughters received about $419,000 as bonuses and more than $170,000 through their regular salaries, the investigation found. Auditors also flagged unauthorized bonuses of nearly $16,000 paid to other ABC employees.
In addition, investigators found that Parker used more than $27,000 on construction and improvements to her home. ABC’s offices are located in the basement of Parker’s home. None of the payments, including additional disbursements of nearly $100,000 were approved by DHS.
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