CNA Staff, Aug 20, 2020 / 12:45 pm (CNA).- Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada has agreed to pay more than $200,000 to resolve claims that some of its former employees fraudulently administered community service grants in 2014 and 2015.
“Our organization took swift action to investigate the irregularities and to self-report through the proper channels,” Deacon Thomas Roberts, president of the organization and a cleric of the Diocese of Las Vegas, stated, according to the AP.
He added that Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada now has “additional safeguards to protect against the possibility of similar future happenings.”
Dn. Roberts said that as the settlement of $206,368.35 was covered by insurance, it “will not have any impact on the services Catholic Charities provides.”
The settlement is related to claims that in 2014 and 2015 employees of Catholic Charities who oversaw programs that placed senior volunteers with youths and with other seniors falsified records. The volunteers received small stipends for their time, funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The employees also directed recipients to falsify the records, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada said, “leading to CNCS grant funds being used to pay stipends for hours that were never actually worked, were in violation of program requirements, or were inflated.”
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada discovered the fraud, terminated the employees who had committed it, and disclosed the problem to the CNCS. The US attorney’s office added that Catholic Charities “cooperated fully in the United States’ investigation of its administration of these grants.”
The settlement did not determine liability, nor did Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada admit wrongdoing.
US Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas A. Trutanich said Aug. 19 that “each day, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada feeds the hungry, provides shelter for the homeless, and supports families and seniors in need of assistance. The federal government relies on its non-profit partners to help ensure that federal grant funds are being used to assist their communities. Today’s settlement is a reminder that everyone receiving federal grant funds must adhere to grant compliance requirements and self-report misuse of federal grant funds, as Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada did here.”
Deborah Jeffrey, inspector general of the CNCS, commented that “Catholic Charities acted responsibly upon discovering fraud, promptly reported the misconduct, cooperated actively with the investigation and willingly made the taxpayers whole.”
Trutanich, along with the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William McSwain, commended Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada “for promptly reporting these issues when they were discovered” and for its cooperation with the government’s investigation.
“We hope this settlement will serve as a message to other senior managers to be vigilant in overseeing government-funded programs and to ensure that their employees do not attempt to conceal any non-compliance. All organizations accepting federal funds should take their responsibility to the American taxpayers seriously to come forward promptly and cooperate fully if they discover that they have not lived up to their promises.”
The case was begun as part of a focus on grant fraud by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.