Manatee County YMCA responds to fraud accusations

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The Manatee County YMCA is responding to accusations that it falsified documents in order to obtain additional funding. According to an audit released last week, Manatee County paid out almost $180,000 to the Y for services that could not be substantiated. The Manatee Y has now had time to review the audit, and they've released a four-page letter responding to the accusations and raising concern about how the audit was conducted.

"We know that the services happened, we know the money was put to good use, and I just want to assure the citizens of Manatee County that that's the case," says Joey Brannon, the chairman of the YMCA Board of Directors.


Brannon had a lot more to say, writing in the letter to the county:

"We will not accept anonymous assaults by nameless persons bearing on the overall integrity and values of the YMCA. … The failure of the auditor to authenticate the veracity of the emails is troubling."

The emails Brannon is talking about were the catalyst for investigation, and while many are indeed from anonymous sources, the Audit Department told ABC 7 that it doesn't matter who sent the email because they are required to investigate any and all complaints.

The Audit Department also says they stand by their findings, which include the accusation that the YMCA billed for services that occurred during days like Thanksgiving and over Christmas break when schools were not in session, and that they altered sign-in sheets used to verify services.

But according to the letter from Brannon, "The active review shows no evidence of fraud at the Y ... and that the falsified documents were the isolated actions of one person." He also says, "We recognize we have some issues, and we've already moved to fix a lot of them."

Those moves include terminating the person involved, but many are skeptical -- including the Manatee County school district, which allegedly wants to use the situation to terminate the contract with the Y's alternative high school, currently operating out of the 13th Avenue Dream Center.

It’s a move YMCA officials are hoping to prevent.

"I realize that the public’s trust is at stake and I just want to assure everybody that we may have had some flaws in documentation, be we haven't had any flaws in the quality of our programs," says Sean Allison, president of the Manatee YMCA.