SBI probes misuse of money at state agency

Posted March 23, 2012

— The state Division of Public Health has shuffled staff and suspended a grant program after an internal audit found mismanagement of money in the program, officials said Friday.

The case has been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

The audit found a conflict of interest in the disbursement of funds and irregularities in management, oversight, monitoring and use of state resources allocated to the Community Focused Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative. The program awards grants to community groups for education and prevention efforts to improve health outcomes in under-served and minority populations.

“We are committed to protecting the integrity of this program and maintaining the public’s trust in our ability to administer programs that provide critical services to the people of North Carolina,” Acting Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia said in a statement.

The CFEHDI program, which is overseen by the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, was responsible for $2.8 million in grants to 34 agencies in the fiscal year that ended last June.

Office Director Barbara Pullen-Smith resigned this week, as did program consultant George Hill. Neither could be reached for comment Friday.

Officials said an interim director has been appointed, and the current grant application process has been ended. The process will be resumed after the investigation is complete.

“Reducing health disparities across North Carolina is too important. We will not allow anything to tarnish this program,” State Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald said in the statement. “Our internal audit has identified the issues, and we are taking swift action to stop any further mismanagement or potential mismanagement. We will continue to monitor this program closely."


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  • girlwonders Mar 26, 2012

    This program helped to fund free clinics in the mountains of North Carolina where people don't have access to basic necessities like food and running water, as well as minority populations. More underserved people in the Appalachian area than any other part of the state. There are some counties that don't have hospitals, much less medical clinics that people with no income can afford. They give out free insulin and bp meds, and help people to understand how to live healthier lives. We take so many things for granted when the truth is, there are still people in our state without electric service and running water/flush toilets.

  • jason19 Mar 26, 2012

    The only difference between state government and private businesses is that someone is actually actively searching for corruption in state government. If private businesses were held to the same standards, so much corruption, waste, and abuse would be found that it'd take the spotlight off government completely.

  • pbjbeach Mar 23, 2012

    thiings of this nature within state government are but the tip of the perverberial iceberg they need to do an in depth audit of the contracting issues an the contract line items of contracts that are let out for bids to contracting firms acorss the state an then check the monthyly estimates line code item an compare the payment tot he supposly done work an as to wheatehr or not the work was actually performed according the specs an if not why was the contracting enitys allowed to be paid for the performance of bd non-specefication work in the first place as that it wouldnt have been in compliance witht he contractors contracts thank you

  • rhess2 Mar 23, 2012


    Minority groups tend to have many disadvantaged people within their ranks. The program in question also provides services for the "under served". That group could potentially include individuals from all races and ethnic groups. You are making an assumption that the program only serves minority groups. It sounds to me you just have a problem with those that aren't caucasian getting assistance.

  • trekkie13 Mar 23, 2012

    rhess2, please explain how this is not minorities getting preferential treatment? Are not non minorities citizens of this state also?

  • rhess2 Mar 23, 2012

    Some of the comments here don't show an understanding of programs that help minorities and disadvantaged groups. It is one thing to be upset over taxpayer dollars being misused, but quite another to not want those funds to be used at all to help people. Also some here blaming every NC State employee for what a few might have done isn't fair.

  • trekkie13 Mar 23, 2012

    Duke_Nukem stated: "This is a program set up to help minorities only and should be disbanded. Either have programs to help everyone equally or don't have them at all. Not fair that my tax money is going to support racial programs. What would happen if we had a program to help only white people? No difference."

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! (Standing ovation) In fact I think the state should be required to refund tax revenue used to pay for this to non minorities.

  • HowManyOunces Mar 23, 2012

    Say it ain't so!!

  • Duke _Nukem Mar 23, 2012

    This is a program set up to help minorities only and should be disbanded. Either have programs to help everyone equally or don't have them at all. Not fair that my tax money is going to support racial programs. What would happen if we had a program to help only white people? No difference.

  • sst100 Mar 23, 2012

    After reading the comments, I thought there was a big cover-up... let's see... an internal audit caught this. It was turned over to the SBI who is investigating (meaning, they are still trying to determine what happened).

    Yeah, every one of those state employees are liars, crooks, and thieves. They go to work every day to steal YOUR money.

    Geez, people. Every time a person who gets in trouble who happens to be a state employee, you would think that they were burning down your house. I hope the guilty are punished; I also hope those of you who have never done anything ever will continue to tell us how pure you are and how evil anyone who works for the public is.