Hogan Forensics was engaged to be an Integrity Monitor for a non-profit organization that received federal and state funding to renovate school facilities. Irma Hawking, a respected community organizer, held the position of Executive Director of the organization for three years and was instrumental in securing federal grant funds to continue the organization’s work. In addition to being the public face for the initiative, she also served on a three-person panel that selected contractors for the renovation projects.
A member of one of the communities that benefited from the program came to us with some suspicions about the project. The concerned citizen had attended the re-dedication of a renovated school where the mayor had applauded the work of the contractors, including their efforts to remove asbestos from the facility. The citizen was surprised, because several years earlier he worked for a contractor that had already removed all of the asbestos from this particular school building.
An examination was initiated, and we discovered that the percentage of awarded contracts which included provisions for asbestos or lead paint abatement increased from 33% to 92% over a three year period when Mrs. Hawking was the Executive Director. Further examination of the contracts that included such provisions found that 82 facilities had already been cleared of asbestos and / or lead paint prior to be being put to bid.
After additional review of documentation and interviewing individuals involved in the awarding of contracts or completion of work, we discovered that Mrs. Hawking had colluded with contractors to include abatement provisions in their contracts. Mrs. Hawking then used her influence to award these contracts to the collusive contractors, who would kickback the allocated funds for the asbestos and lead paint removal to Mrs. Hawking.
Over a three year period, Mrs. Hawking fraudulently obtained $122,921 from the kickback scheme. The funds were used to perform work on the homes of Mrs. Hawking and her parents. After admitting to fraud, the federal and state funding for the program was withdrawn, and the program was forced to close down.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case Hogan Forensics has seen where a respected member of the community takes advantage of a program that does real good for the public. We encourage the Boards of all non-profit organizations to utilize the services of an independent Integrity Monitor to ensure the members of your organization are being true stewards to your mission.