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Feds probe massive misuse of funds
Boston Herald ^ | 12/3/03 | Elisabeth J. Beardsley

Posted on 12/03/2003 5:00:35 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a sweeping probe into alleged criminal misuse of millions of dollars in grants to state public safety agencies, including the chief medical examiner's office and local police departments, officials revealed yesterday.

Gov. Mitt Romney's Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn admitted his office is cooperating with the Justice Department criminal probe, after alerting the feds to ``dozens'' of grants that local agencies had wrongly received or used for unintended purposes.

``It was our judgment that a number of these grants had been awarded in violation of federal guidelines,'' Flynn said. ``The grants did not appear to us, all of them, to meet the standards that the federal government sets for the awarding of these grants.''

A Justice Department spokesperson declined comment.

Flynn's confirmation of the federal probe, first reported by the Herald in October, came during a legislative hearing at the State House.

The news came one day after Flynn conducted a high-profile house cleaning at the public safety agency, including the dismissal of chief medical examiner Dr. Richard J. Evans amid Herald revelations of gross mismanagement.

Neither Evans' dismissal nor the other firings was related to the ongoing probe, Flynn said.

Flynn defended the decision to keep Evans in place as interim medical examiner, saying he would not begrudge him the extra pay he gets. However, Flynn acknowledged the ME's office was in administrative disarray.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Flynn declined to release details, but several lawmakers and whistleblowers pointed to at least three awards to the chief medical examiner's office.

Those grants dealt with grief counseling, fatalities, and the Massachusetts Center for Innovation - but the money was actually pumped into salaries for apparent patronage hires, as well as computers and SUVs, lawmakers and whistleblowers said.

Timothy Manning, a former accounting officer at the medical examiner's office worker, told lawmakers he's been contacted by federal investigators regarding the grants probe.

``I have been reached out to. I really can't elaborate much more,'' said Manning, who was laid off in July.

Other whistleblowers have said the chief medical examiner's office misused $1.2 million in federal money that had been slated for disaster response and mass casualty preparedness.

At least three former EOPS employees with ties to the chief medical examiner's office are under scrutiny, sources said.

Senate Public Safety Chairman Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge) peppered Flynn with questions about why EOPS kept Evans on board for months after the agency learned in May or June of the grant irregularities.

``It's perplexing to me that it would take this administration this long - and only after a Boston Herald expose - to show good management sense,'' Barrios said.

The alleged mismanagement in the medical examiner's office appeared to have occurred in 2000, under the tenure of former Gov. Paul Cellucci and former Public Safety Secretary Jane Perlov.

Flynn would not provide details of the timeline, but public safety grants in 2001 and 2002 were overseen by former acting Gov. Jane Swift's Public Safety Secretary James Jajuga.

Perlov and Jajuga couldn't be reached yesterday.

The state public safety secretariat receives about $100 million in grants from the Justice Department per year.

Other lawmakers are worried that misconduct might have spilled over into the state's homeland security grants.

Senate Post Audit and Oversight Chairman Marc R. Pacheco (D-New Bedford) said his panel launched a separate investigation over the summer after receiving complaints about improper use of terrorism-fighting grants.

If the federal probe finds abuse of federal monies, Massachusetts could lose its future eligibility for grants, Pacheco said.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: govgrants; misised; probes

1 posted on 12/03/2003 5:00:36 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Thanks for this one - I am shocked!

2 posted on 12/03/2003 5:02:35 PM PST by lodwick ( Wake up, America)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
"If the federal probe finds abuse of federal monies".....

"we'll put those folks in Congress,
those pikers there now only blew out a mere $400 billion in drug benefits...I'm sure we could piss away more"
3 posted on 12/03/2003 5:02:58 PM PST by John Beresford Tipton
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4 posted on 12/03/2003 5:03:12 PM PST by diotima
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