MANATEE -- A critical audit of programs operated by the Manatee County YMCA has been forwarded to the State Attorney's Office for review, officials said Monday.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office last week forwarded documents related to the audit to Chief Assistant State Attorney Lon Arend, according to Melissa Mack, an executive assistant there. She said Arend was unavailable for comment Monday.
Last summer, auditors reported they substantiated allegations the YMCA submitted falsified information to support funding received from Manatee County government.
The audit, supervised by R.B. "Chips" Shore, Manatee clerk of the circuit court and Manatee County comptroller, found falsified documents for a middle school program, incorrect monthly billing for a gang prevention program; and incorrect monthly billings for a school-age child-care program, the July 3 report said.
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Falsified, inaccurate or unverifiable billing records required repayment totalling $186,440, auditors concluded.
The audit also found Manatee County employees failed to properly monitor the Y programs, and two county workers were fired.
Adam Goodman, a spokesman for the YMCA, declined comment Monday on the latest development in the case, as did Mickey Palmer, Manatee County attorney.
YMCA officials previously objected to the audit findings, saying their own internal investigation found documentation flaws, but now evidence of fraud, as County Administrator Ed Hunzeker charged last summer. The YMCA is also seeking $130,470 in payments it is owed by the county.
There has been no attempt to answer unresolved questions, YMCA officials charge. County officials withheld funds and "are making charges they can't substantiate, suggestions they can't validate and demands they can't back up," YMCA Board Chairman Joseph Brannon wrote in a statement last month. While acknowledging the audit correctly pointed out YMCA "paperwork deficiency" regarding recordkeeping, Brannon contended the audit included "baseless, false and thoroughly outlandish accusations from anonymous sources, whose identity and motivation were never investigated." One hourly employee at the YMCA duplicated a handful of sign-in sheets, and was fired, Brannon wrote.
YMCA officials also objected to the county commission decision to deny a request for mediation of outstanding debts related to the first phase of audit findings.
However, in a letter to commissioners dated Nov. 19, Shore reconfirmed his audit team's findings.
Shore's auditing team has launched a second phase of investigation, Palmer told commissioners recently.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.