Foundation Claims It Has No Responsibility to Help Public Learn What Happened to Missing $19,500

By Edwin Crayton

 

edwincrayton

In October of 2016, Leo Walker, chairman of the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF), made a stunning statement when he admitted the foundation didn’t know what happened to $19,500 of the public money it manages. Fast forward to the January 8th meeting of NCIF when I asked Walker and the board if they felt the public has a right to know what happened to the money, and if they felt they had a responsibility to do all possible to help the public learn what happened to the funds. The board stunningly said no, rejecting that concept. From a purely ethical and moral point of view, it would seem any community organization that has money missing would want to do all it could to appear transparent, restore trust and help the public learn what happened. Indeed, doing so might at the very least help prevent it from happening again. Right? But apparently the foundation doesn’t see it that way.

So what are they thinking and why? The board maintains that because most of the current members were not around when the money went missing, they have no responsibility to help find out what happened to the missing funds. In fact, members seemed unwilling to even commit to a minimum effort to investigate the missing money. For instance, when I asked if they would at the very least be willing to at least ask a couple of questions of the auditor who in 2014, reported the money was unaccounted for. They said no.

The implications of their comments are disturbing. For instance, if they are right then it would mean any group could lose money or mishandle it and when their successors take office, the matter would be dropped. No one would be held accountable and the incident would not even be looked into, all because “the new officers were not involved in the problem.” That is even more disturbing than $19, 500 being unaccounted for.

The Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation Board members are : Leo Walker Jr., Oswald Taylor, Kelvin Porter, Brenda Milner, Ed Ward Jr., Gwen Hardison, Mildred Joseph, Shaniqua Hoover, Billye Sue Johnson, Gwendolyn Williams, Catherine Hoover, Diane Blake Jones, James Below Jr., and Estelle Braxton

“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” —Lord Acton
“You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” –Jesus Christ, John 8:32

 

20 thoughts on “Foundation Claims It Has No Responsibility to Help Public Learn What Happened to Missing $19,500

  1. There is a process for this: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/irs-complaint-process-tax-exempt-organizations

    HOW TO REPORT CHARITABLE NONPROFIT ABUSE

    What is charitable nonprofit abuse?

    Charitable Nonprofit abuse (also known as nonprofit misconduct) occurs when a charitable organization engages in any type of illegal or unethical conduct involving finances or other components of the organization’s operations.

    Where do I report charitable nonprofit abuse?
    If you are a staff person reporting charitable nonprofit abuse, you may consider Steps I and II below. Members of the public may use Steps III and beyond. .

    I. Supervisor/Whistle Blower
    If an organization has implemented a Whistle Blower Policy, the employee should first report to the specified person. If the organization fails to enact a whistle blower policy, the employee should report to his/her immediate supervisor.
    II. Human Resources Department
    If an employee feels uncomfortable or dissatisfied reporting the complaint to their supervisor or whistle blower, the employee should then report the complaint to either the Human Resources Department or someone in a top management position.
    III. Attorney General
    If the employee is still unsatisfied with the status of their complaint or if a member of the public needs to report an issue, a complaint form to the Attorney General may found at: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/uploadedFiles/Complaints/charities.pdf. The States Attorney General Office is responsible for regulating charities and may take corrective actions against organizations.
    IV. IRS
    If you believe that the activities or operations of a tax-exempt organization are inconsistent with its tax-exempt status, you may file a complaint with the Exempt Organizations Examination Division by completing Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f13909.pdf. The complaint should contain all relevant facts concerning the alleged violation of tax law. Form 13909 is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
    V. Bureau of Charitable Organizations (BCO)
    If the complaint is specifically involving solicitation, a complaint should be reported to the BCO. A complaint can be reported by phone at:
    1-800-732-0999 (within PA), 717-787-0700 (outside PA)
    or via mail to:
    Division of Investigations/Audits
    212 North Office Building
    Harrisburg, PA 17120
    VI. District Attorney
    If the there is a suspicion of criminal behavior or misconduct by or within a nonprofit organization, a report should be submitted to the District Attorney.

    How Do I know to report charitable nonprofit abuse to the Attorney General, the IRS or the District Attorney?

    The Attorney General, IRS and the District Attorney handle many of the same complaints. There is much overlap on a number of issues including staff, political activity, theft, etc. The only real distinctions are reporting tax issues or criminal behavior. If a complaint is specifically regarding tax issues, the complaint should be reported to the IRS. The Attorney General is NOT responsible for tax complaints. For criminal behavior, the complaint should be reported to the District Attorney.

    Final Word of Advice:

    A charitable nonprofit abuse issue should only be taken to the press as a LAST RESORT. This action should not be considered unless all else fails. Reporting nonprofit abuse to the press may damage the public opinion of your particular charitable organization and/or may damage the public opinion of the nonprofit sector as a whole.

    • I think giving it to a news source was the best thing to do. Just look at the facts given to us. 1) The money was missing prior to the 2014 audit. 2) There was no action taken at that time to locate the missing money. 3) No one on the foundation board will assist in an investigation of the missing money, even though they say they were not there at the time. This is small town politics at its “finest” and I hope you can read the scarcasim in that sentence because it is loaded. Just how long should they have been given to do something. Personally, I think the time had passed when we would think they were going to do anything about it. They knew about it, the auditor told them. What did they do when told? I think they must have just folded their hands, and said “next order of business” and it ended there for them. None of them deserve a seat on the board if they don’t have enough honesty in them to look for the thief, and they didn’t even have that many people to investigate.

      • very well put and “sarcasm ” well taken .I think they should fire the whole board and start all over you know they protect each other.

  2. Thankfully it is a nonprofit and all records are available through public search. I find it curious that there are no 2016 tax records are posted up here: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/473882059

    This definitely requires some sort of outside intervention from either the IRS or perhaps the Secretary of States Office can order an investigation into the practices or the board. Perhaps there will be come sort of accountability then.

  3. Is this what is known as the “good old boy network” operating at full force? The way I read the article, it says not one of these 14 people were around when the money went missing, which was approximately 3 years ago. Not one of them served on the board then, not one? Has the city attorney contacted the auditor? If none of these people want to help with information with finding the money, then they should be part of an investigation in trying to find out where the money went. I wish someone would have that dramatic moment of looking into a camera, and saying, “We are coming after you!” It’s time we stopped allowing things like this to happen, That is almost $20,000 and I could do a long with that much money. Come on, law enforcement, city, parish, SOMEONE, get on this and find this crook. If they don’t want to help, perhaps their budget should be cut by that same amount to repay taxpayers. Just a few thoughts.

    • She was a founding member so was Walker and there’s more that were there at the time! It’s a independent group not tied to the city.

  4. I am new to this city (less than a year) but I have heard several of the names on the board, I think you are correct Bill H. All of you who have commented I agree, especially ” who has oversite of this board” someone has to make sure they do the right thing. IF not the community should demand to know what happened. I am not impressed with the government and citizen boards around here so far.
    Thanks Edwin, and well put.
    J.c. Robertson

  5. Okay, so they refuse to offer any information. Should the next step be litigation to have all records made available? Possibly refer to higher authority than the NCIF? The answer is there, not quite as obvious as the cover up, but it’s there.

  6. Denial of Board Members to investigate this issue is immoral and appear to be possibly criminal. Their response is totally unacceptable!

  7. Maybe all future funding should be stopped until a full accounting of previous funds is completed. What could the current members be afraid of? If the money is missing, just look at the records kept by the treasurer and it will easily be accounted for. Right? Whoops. Maybe it should be cleared up by the State Attorney General or whomever authorized the formation of the NCIF and it’s reciept and use of public funds. How is it that a chosen board of people can assist in the coverup of a possible crime and have no responsibility for the same crime? How can boardmembers obstruct Justice from being performed without consequences? Just sayin’ er askin’.

  8. Reading the names of that board is it any surprise they do not want to hold anyone responsible. Take that anyway you want to, it’s the truth and people know it.

  9. And this is the same group our famous council woman was the treasurer for? Who would not bring the books to the meetings? And they are supposed to have approximately 1.8 million on hand? Lol this should be good! Who is supposed to be overseeing this operation?

    • Maybe an investigation should begin with questioning Ms. Morrow. The way she presented the treasurer’s report, is certainly not the way it should be done, and the folks on the foundatition board certainly should have known that fact. Isn’t it time that we started appointing/electing honest, reputable, professional people to these boards. Retired is great, but I’m thinking it may be time to assess the way we look at choosing board members. Too many friends appointed, too many favors being done. Let’s get people on these boards and committees who understand business, who are honest and above reproach, and who would not be afraid to stand up and say, “Wait. This is wrong,”

      Our city and parish governments are beginning to make Natchitoches look bad when they allow this mess and others like this to continue. Look at yourself. Are you working for the people of the area, or are you just wanting a name for yourself and more green in the pockets????

  10. Surely there is some governmental body that oversees NCIF. Who authorized the audit that uncovered the missing money? I cannot believe there is no supervisory person or agency who can demand an accounting. Dealing with the board members of NCIF seems to be a waste of time. Who do they report to so that action can be demanded? Throwing up hands is discuss is not a solution nor is it a deterrent for future problems.

  11. I don’t understand their lack of concern for the missing $$$. Hey, I wish Someone would grace me with that type of cash an just forget all about it. I know several of these board members really well. Not all are involved with the missing $$$$, but will be held accountable. Speak out board members. What Happened to that $$$$? Great job Edwin as always.

  12. If someone had invested $19,500 in Bitcoin in 2014, it would be worth between $400,000 and $800,000 today depending if one bought high or low. Y’all should assume Murphy’s Law and get your moola back. Y’all might be funding terrorism and should be reported to Homeland Security. If you see something, say something. This is something.

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