MANATEE -- The State Attorney's Office is unable to bring a criminal charge in connection with YMCA billing documents Manatee County auditors contend contained falsified information.
An investigation was conducted by a white-collar crime prosecutor and Lon Scott Arend, chief assistant state attorney.
"There is insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution at this time," states a letter dated Wednesday and signed by Arend.
"We evaluated each crime listed in the audit conducted by the Clerk of Court and ultimately determined that
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we are unable to prove all of the elements necessary for a criminal charge," wrote Arend. "It should be noted, however, that irregularities were found within the documents examined."
Civil remedies may be available to the county, Arend suggested.
The State Attorney's Office investigation found "some of these do appear to be copies of documents that may have been altered at some point by someone," but absent evidence of a criminal intent, criminal charges cannot be filed, he wrote.
A statement from YMCA Board Chairman Joey Brannon issued late Wednesday said: "The state attorney ruling that has cleared the Manatee Y of any wrongdoing is well-deserved and long overdue. As the Manatee Y said from the start, all contracted services were provided, and any errors regarding paperwork, once identified, were dealt with. We hope this ruling moves us closer to a final resolution with the county, so that the Y can get back to devoting its full energies to what it does best: Serving the families of Manatee County."
Mickey Palmer, Manatee County attorney, said the decision not to bring criminal charges will have no bearing on the county's pursuit of monies owed by the YMCA.
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 County clerk of the circuit court and 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. Falsified, inaccurate or unverifiable billing records required repayment totaling $186,440, auditors concluded. YMCA officials said their internal investigation found flaws in their documentation, but there was no evidence fraud had occurred.
The audit also found Manatee County employees failed to properly monitor the Y programs and two county workers were fired. One YMCA employee was fired.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.