Audit claims Manatee YMCA scammed county out of thousands

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – The Manatee County Clerk has released an internal audit and found the Manatee YMCA defrauded the county to the tune of at least $100,000. Eighty-three pages of official documents detail the steps Manatee County YMCA officials took in fraudulently billing the county, including everything from falsifying sign-in sheets to billing for services that were never performed.

Page one of the documents states: “We concluded that the allegations that the Manatee YMCA submitted falsified information to support funding received from Manatee County have been substantiated."

The audit goes on to list other findings, included among them the accusation that student sign-in sheets used to substantiate serviced rendered and payments due were duplicated. In one example, the sign-in sheets for the YMCA Dash program at Harllee Middle School were exact duplicates of sign-in sheets submitted for the South Branch program.

Another finding says the YMCA billed for services performed in schools on days the schools weren't in session -- including weekends, and over the thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

In all there were 15 findings documenting various billing violations, for a total of $178,256.01 that’s believed to have been fraudulent.

"There was no intention to defraud the county or anyone,” says Sean Allison, the CEO of the Manatee County YMCA. He classifies the billing irregularities as “errors in documentation.”

But while Allison denies the claims, he does acknowledge there is some oversight that needs to be corrected and he says they are working on it.

"We've taken steps to correct those, and in some cases the [people] responsible for those flaws have already been terminated from the Y," Allison says.

In addition to personnel changes, the chair of the YMCA board of directors says they have and will continue to work with the county to make any and all necessary corrects.

"We understand that record-keeping is part of the obligation to the county and if we fell short and we need to make it right we will,” Allison says. “If we owe money back to the county we will pay the money back to the county, but the services did occur. The county tax payers, the participants, the children, the families in those programs -- they received the full benefits of the Y's involvement."