September 16, 2010; Source: Star-Ledger | In New Jersey, the Department of Human Services is going to spend $100,000 for an outside auditor to review the findings of the state comptroller that Allies, Inc. misspent $160,000 in public funds on Caribbean cruises, dinners, and hotels over a two-year period.
Allies said that it spent $111,851 to take managers, employees, and disabled clients on two cruises, one for 31 employees and 33 clients to the Caribbean, the other for 25 employees with 23 clients to the Mediterranean. While Allies disputes the findings and hasn’t returned a dime, it has recruited an entirely new board of directors and fired the entire staff of the organization’s accounting department. Something doesn’t add up; you don’t fire your governing board and your accounting department if you’ve done nothing wrong.
Will the DHS auditor find more? Maybe. The Comptroller only looked at $305,000 in Allies expenses to find the allegedly misspent $160,000. The new audit is to go much deeper to look into the $22.5 million state contracts that Allies had in both 2007 and 2008.
What is Allies? It is the only one of 10 state-funded programs for people with developmental disabilities that the Comptroller found to have allegedly misspent public dollars. The purpose of the state contracts is to provide housing and work programs for 282 developmentally disabled people. Did the clients enjoy the Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises, or were the beneficiaries the Allies staff who got to take these luxury trips leaving less in the budget for job or housing services for the Allies clients?—Rick Cohen