Lawrence non-profit settles federal investigation with payment of $80,000, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz says

A Lawrence non-profit has settled federal allegations that the organization paid some of its employees full-time wages when they were working at the same time at another non-profit and that the former executive director and another employee were not working as much as they were supposed to.

The Greater Lawrence Community Action Council (GLCAC) won funding from the Department of Education to hire a program director and a program case manager, but the people hired for those jobs worked during the same business hours at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office said this afternoon.

Ortiz said GCLAC’s former facilities manager was also paid a full-time salary when, in fact, during warm weather, the manager was playing golf one or more afternoons a week. Ortiz also said the organization’s former executive director was paid for full-time work but only worked about half the time the organization claimed.

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Ortiz said in a statement that GLCAC did not dispute the government’s allegations and would pay $80,000 to settle the claims

“Agencies receiving taxpayers’ dollars are expected to have a sense of integrity and to utilize funds for the actual purposes for which they are intended,” Ortiz said. “Federal grant funds have become increasingly competitive in this fiscal climate. Communities suffer when funds are used inappropriately to subsidize employee moonlighting or recreational activities.”

The allegations of misuse of funds was first reported by the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence.

According to Ortiz, a former GCLAC employee reported the problems to federal auhtorities, and as a whistleblower, she will collect $11,500, representing her share of the $80,282 recovered by federal prosecutors.

The non-profit agency has revamped its leadership since the allegations of mismanagement were first aired in 2011, including naming Evelyn Friedman, a former neighborhood development official in the Menino administration, as the new executive director.