Skip to comments.Criminal probe launched into Make-A-Wish money
Posted on 05/01/2005 7:08:12 PM PDT by Born Conservative
Investigation follows firing of two chapter workers. Some close to case wont link dismissals and lost money.
WILKES-BARRE (PA) Detectives from the Luzerne County District Attorneys Office launched a criminal investigation last week into disappearance of what officials say is a substantial amount of money from the northeast Pennsylvania chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation.
The investigation comes after an internal audit within the charity and the ousting of two high-ranking employees within the organization; however, one Make-A-Wish official and the district attorney refused to equate the missing money and firings.
Make-A-Wish President and Chief Executive Officer Jessica Hardy and Vice President of Program Services Arthur Owens were fired by the foundation on April 22, according to Joe Milazzo, chairman of the Make-A-Wish board of directors.
The termination was based on a lot of information, Milazzo said. Because this is a personnel issue, its a confidential matter at this point.
The board suspended Hardy and Owens without pay in mid-March as the internal audit of the local chapter of the foundation began, Milazzo said.
District Attorney David Lupas said the facts and figures uncovered by the charitys audit pointed to some criminal involvement in connection with the missing money. Exactly how much money disappeared will be determined by what Lupas expects to be a lengthy investigation.
Owens, who worked for Make-A-Wish for nine years, said he received word of his firing through a letter sent to his home. He was given no reason for his termination. Hardy was employed with the charity for nearly 12 years, according to Milazzo.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps terminally ill children meet their favorite celebrities or sports star, take vacations, among other activities.
Owens job was making the connection between the children and the particular activity they chose to participate in through the organization.
The way it looks, theyre saying I was involved in some type of money problems, but I never had any access to money so I couldnt take any, he said. Im confident that my name will be cleared once the investigation is over.
The local chapter of Make-A-Wish serves 21 counties including Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Schuylkill and Wyoming, among others.
The charity is funded solely through money raised through personal and corporate donations and partnerships. The foundation is working with a $1.5 million budget for services throughout the 21 counties, according to Milazzo.
More than 1,000 wishes were granted by the local chapter, according to the charitys Web site.
I did home care nursing for a child who was blind (but could probably see bright lights) and had profound mental retardation (amongst many other problems). Make-a-wish bought him a TV.
Will they take a kid hunting?
Make a Wish bought us a ranch.
A blind kid getting a television.....
Unfortunately, it's been my observation that many of these "charitable" organizations mis-match their goods with their recipients.
I really hate to say this, but to me it just seems easier for one to dig into his own pocket, of his own personal initiative, to personally meet a particular "need" of a particular individual, than to depend upon any organization to give something.
I've done it myself (no pats on the back needed; I can kiss my own rear end pretty good without anyone else helping), finding in every case that $100 out of my pocket gets something more important, more relevant, than say, $1000 of "goods" from some organization.
yep... I've done the same thing... get rid of the middle man. Look around your community and you'll find somebody that needs an appliance, kid that needs tuition aid, GI that needs a phone card,....etc.. etc.
Don't forget all the free radio and TV advertising time it gets too.
I can't find the source at the moment, but Make-A-Wish Foundation was rated very low, something like 3% of what they take in actually goes to the children. What can it cost to take a child to Disneyland, or buy them a tv? They rake in millions.