Fasano, Candelora React to Arrests for Abuse of Energy Assistance Program

March 26, 2009

Renew Call for Full Forensic Audit of CAA’s across Connecticut

HARTFORD – State Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) today renewed their call for a full forensic audit of each of the state’s thirteen Community Action Agencies amidst the arrests this week of five people on charges of larceny for allegedly defrauding a public energy assistance program administered by the Community Action Agency of New Haven.

“Representative Candelora and I have been warning for nearly two years that questionable accounting practices and a general lack of financial controls at CAA of New Haven would result in people abusing federal fuel assistance programs at the expense of those most in need,” said Senator Fasano. “These recent arrests confirm that our fears have been realized. It is past time for the state to require that all of its 13 Community Action Agencies submit to full forensic audits, so that we can determine the extent of these abuses.”

“In these economic times, it is imperative that every tax-funded program helps those who truly need it,” said Representative Candelora. “We have been calling for proper controls for years, and I hope that these arrests are the beginning of a process to eliminate fraud and abuse in these state programs.”

Fasano and Candelora first sounded the alarm about CAA’s improper administration of the in September of 2007. The legislators called on the Department of Social Services to conduct an expanded forensic audit of CAA of New Haven after whistleblowers complained about the creation of fake Social Security numbers, questionable accounting practices, and unqualified applicants receiving fuel assistance funds at the expense of Connecticut taxpayers and other qualified families in need.

In the months following the legislators’ announcement, the State of Connecticut opened an investigation into CAA of New Haven’s billing practices. And in December of 2007, federal authorities raided CAA of New Haven, removing large numbers of documents and files as part of their own investigation.

Fasano and Candelora said this week’s arrests underscore the need for a full forensic audit of each of the state’s thirteen Community Action Agencies. The legislators said that the audits should be paid for by the CAAs and the results should be submitted to the chairs and ranking members of the Appropriations Committee by the end of the fiscal year, June 30th.

The legislators said the forensic audits should cover the last five years and include a review of all agency transactions, including: application process from intake to funding; vendor lists; contract payments; signatory on checks; oil deliveries; invoicing and related payments.