BROCKTON – For the second time in the past decade, a state audit of Brockton Area Multi-Services Inc. (BAMSI) revealed the organization’s misuse of thousands of state dollars.
A June 2021 audit report indicates that the nonprofit human services organization charged more than $ 11,000 to state contracts for non-reimbursable expenses between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2019 .
“We have a lot of work to do, and we do and take it very seriously,” said Peter Evers, CEO of BAMSI.
The charges were largely linked to former BAMSI chief executive officer Anthony Simonelli. The audit details how Simonelli billed over $ 2,000 in state contracts for three life insurance policies for himself, over $ 2,000 in auto insurance for himself and over $ 6,000 in gasoline for his personal car.
The remainder of the charge consisted of sales taxes, undocumented dining and travel costs, and a $ 25 liquor purchase. Together, these totaled less than $ 1,000.
Simonelli declined to comment for this article.
In the report, the state auditor’s office said these issues were caused by a lack of oversight and review within the organization.
“BAMSI officials said the expenses were incorrectly charged to government contracts due to staff turnover and two missing receipts could not be produced because they were misclassified,” the report said. .
“BAMSI does not have internal controls in place to ensure that its staff review all of the President and CEO’s expenses to ensure they are reasonable and eligible before they are paid.”
The report recommends that BAMSI ensure that staff review CEO and President expenses before they charge them to state contracts, and reimburse the state for more than $ 11,000 that is not due. had to be billed.
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BAMSI agreed to these changes, although current BAMSI CEO Peter Evers has said the organization will not reimburse the state, as requested by the state.
Evers said he no longer regularly uses his corporate credit card and that all expenses he charges are reviewed monthly by the chairman of the BAMSI board.
Evers also said that the organization’s old system for tracking these expenses was outdated, in part because of BAMSI’s growth as an organization during the period audited, and that this was part of the problem. He said the new CFO has put in place a much better system.
“It is not fraud. Rather, it is a system that was not sophisticated enough to allocate the money appropriately,” Evers said.
Evers also pointed out that the amount of misallocated money is very small compared to the organization’s $ 100 million budget, but said that doesn’t mean the report isn’t a big deal.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously if it’s just a small amount of money. Because if we don’t fix it, next time it could be a lot more.” , did he declare.
Evers also defended Simonelli, saying he knew him well.
“He has done wonderful things for this organization, and I know he would never knowingly defraud the company or the state. I absolutely know that he is a man of great integrity,” he said. declared.
This is not the first time that BAMSI has unduly billed the state for its expenses. In 2015, a state audit found that BAMSI wrongly billed the state $ 18,593 for restaurant meals, alcohol, and tobacco from July 2011 to June 2013.
At the time, Simonelli said alcohol and tobacco purchases were part of fundraising events and dinners, and state money was not used to pay for alcohol and tobacco, but that other income, such as money from a golf fundraiser, was used.
Simonelli stepped down as President and CEO of BAMSI in December 2019. Evers started as CEO in March 2020.
In the report, the External Auditor thanks BAMSI for its cooperation with the audit.
The new audit also revealed mismanagement of donations to the organization. According to the report, BAMSI was unable to provide letters acknowledging receipt of all donations and that some donations were incorrectly classified as being able to be used for anything, instead of the specific purpose stated on the gift.
The report found that over $ 25,000 in donations did not have letters of appreciation and that over $ 1,000 had been misclassified.
“As a result, there is a more than acceptable risk that restricted donations will not be used for their intended purpose,” the report said.
The report says BAMSI cited high turnover in its philanthropy and marketing department for these issues. But according to the report, the state auditor’s office found a lack of oversight controls that would ensure letters of acknowledgment were sent and that restricted donations were accurately reflected in accounting records.
Evers also cited a dual system for receiving donations and a poor record keeping system for issues.
The recommendation of the auditor was that the organization institute new controls. The report states that BAMSI complied with the recommendation and cited the following as BAMSI’s response:
“BAMSI has just hired a new vice president of philanthropy and increased staff in the department. BAMSI has implemented a new donation tracking software (Donor Perfect) which will provide Philanthropy with better documentation for all donations and donors. Reconciliations between data in Donor Perfect and the General Ledger are done on a monthly basis and any discrepancies are investigated in a timely manner. “
Enterprise Staff Writer Susannah Sudborough can be contacted by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @k_sudborough. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.