State audit reveals more than $103K missing from Sandy Hook victims fund

Crime

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — After a months-long investigation, state auditors released the findings showing more than $103,000 was missing from the Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Program.

The program was started after the tragic shooting nearly seven years ago. It’s a privately funded organization that provides help to anyone working on the site that day, from teachers to first responders.

The Office of Victim Services administered the account up until 2015. After that point, they handed it over to the United Labor Agency (ULA). The ULA is a charity arm of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Representative Themis Klarides said when they took over the account it had $115,827.

According to State Representative Mitch Bolinsky, an executive director for the foundation contacted him back in February. He said she told him two Newtown first responders had PTSD claims denied.

The state auditor’s report mentions they did not find anyone who had claims denied by the foundation.

After the initial contact, Bolinsky took the information to the State Attorney General. Bolinsky said Thursday, Attorney General William Tong found no wrongdoings.

However, in a statement released by the Office of the Attorney General, they said they first learned about the co-mingled accounts as of recently.

“The Office of the Attorney General first learned of the co-mingled funds outlined in the State Auditor report the evening of Dec. 4, 2019. The Office of the Attorney General is currently carefully reviewing that report and evaluating further action.”

“It’s ghastly to think about what was done and whom this money was taken from,” Bolinsky said.

“Every dollar that should be in the fund, all 103,712 dollars, is currently available to any worker impacted by [that] tragic school shooting,” a spokesperson with the ULA said Thursday.

After the ULA was contacted with the audit results, they said, “as soon as the board of ULA became aware of the audit it took immediate action to correct the matter.”

“I think they need to answer to where this money went why they co-mingled it and why they’re not arguing it and why they’re just paying it back is not enough,” Klarides said.

The ULA plans to hire an outside independent investigator to conduct a full, objective investigation into how money from the fund was used. They said once the results come back, the board will take action from there.

“All I know is this, I’m not a high finance person, [but] if you start out with $115,000 and only $12,000 is taken out, you should not have $16,000 in the account,” Klarides said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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