Sunrise Senior Center accused of defrauding taxpayers

Published On: May 08 2013 09:52:44 AM EDT
Updated On: May 09 2013 10:27:09 AM EDT

A Broward County Senior Center is under investigation, accused of overcharging senior citizens by $30,000. Local 10's Bob Norman investigates.

SUNRISE, Fla. -

The Daniel Cantor Senior Center in Sunrise in a place of hope for many of South Florida's elderly citizens.

"Without it, they'd sit at home and look at the walls and get depressed and die before their time," resident Howard Schenkman told Local 10.

But now the center stands accused by the Broward County Inspector General's Office of using that position of trust to defraud taxpayers.  Inspector General John Scott alleges the center, which is affiliated with the Jewish Federal of Broward County, systematically overbilled the county in its subcontract to transport seniors in need. 

"The [Cantor center] transportation manager specifically instructed a number of the bus drivers to falsify ridership and to inflate billing," said Scott.

Scott said the center received about $1.6 million from the county and that his investigators were able "conclusively determine almost $30,000 in overbilling in regard to just four clients."

On Tuesday, the organization refused comment, but in responses to the OIG admitted no intentional wrongdoing and blamed the investigation on "disgruntled" employee bus drivers.

The center's vans are used to transport elderly persons in need -- sometimes to and from the center for Meals on Wheels -- on the taxpayers' dime.

Scott has forwarded the investigation to the State Attorney's Office for possible criminal action.

When asked whether the county would remove the subcontractor, Mayor Kristin Jacobs told Local 10 she planned to end the county's financial relationship with the center.

"There's no reason we are going to keep someone like that on board," said Jacobs.

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