The state attorney general has reached a settlement with one of the Bronx’s largestnonprofits.
On Wednesday, February 25, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office announced that they had settled with Regional Aid for Interim Needs, which they state diverted about $800,000 in Medicaid funding to make mortgage payments on the agency’s administrative offices on Morris Park Avenue while they were under reconstruction, vacant and not in use from 2003 to 2008.
This was in violation of RAIN’s contract with the city’s Human Resource Administration, which oversees the Medicaid funding that the city receives from the federal government and the state Department of Health to fund programs like those run by RAIN and other service providers.
The Department of Investigation initiated the investigation, which was later referred to the state, said a attorney general spokeswoman.
The money used to pay the mortgage was part of programming funds, and was designated for an affiliate, RAIN Home Attendant Services.
“Nonprofits cannot be used as the personal piggy banks of their management, “said Schneiderman. “This organization wrongly diverted taxpayer dollars meant to help the elderly to pay off a mortgage on a vacant building.”
In a statement, Anderson Torres, RAIN’s chief executive officer, said that the organization was pleased to put this behind it.
“The settlement resolves matters between RAIN, the New York Attorney General and the New York City Human Resources Administration,” he said, adding “Neither RAIN nor any of its current officers, directors or employees violated any law or regulation.”
The investigation found that RAIN’s former executive director, Louis Vasquez, made the mortgage payments.
Vasquez was also the subject of a separate DOI investigation that found he improperly used a corporate American Express account to pay personal expenses.
The DOI Investigation ended in the Mayor’s Office of Contracts requiring the reconstitution of RAIN’s board of directors. Vasquez resigned as of September 30, 2013, and the new board was ordered to repay any money used for personal expenses.
As part of this settlement RAIN will repay the nearly $800,000 used to make the mortgage payments to Medicaid.
RAIN has ten Bronx based full-service community senior centers and provides transportation services, home-delivered meals, assistance with benefits and entitlements, case management and elder abuse services, and a community-based mobile meals program for seniors and a homeless and hungry population.
With a reconstituted board in place, and the settlement behind it, RAIN’s CEO says the organization will continue its mission, which it has pursued since 1964.
“RAIN is pleased to continue its mission of the past 50 years to serve the needs of our city’s elderly and for social activities, meals and health care,” said Torres. “We appreciate the continued support of the community at large.”