State hits HARC for $310,000 - WNCN: News, Weather

State hits HARC for $310,000

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Taxpayers take note: the state reclaimed $310,000 that it says the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, or HARC, fraudulently stole from you.

Florida's Chief Financial Officer says former HARC administrators billed the state for services it did not provide in its HomeLink program.

In HomeLink, HARC's clients were supposed to provide services such as yard work or cleaning to homebound senior citizens. HARC then billed Florida's Agency for Disabled Persons for reimbursements.

An 8 On Your Side investigation revealed in January that Florida's Department of Financial Services had evidence of improper billing, and was readying to pop HARC.

"HARC was actually billing for individuals who had already been placed in a senior living facility, they were billing for individuals who did not even exist, false names completely, and regrettably they were billing for those who had already been deceased," Florida CFO Jeff Atwater said.

Atwater called the scheme fraud from top to bottom.

"It was not a mistake, it was clear these were not errors, it was not a misjudgment call, it was repeated efforts by management, administrators within HARC to misrepresent the types of services that were being offered," he said.

Last summer HARC attorney Cynthia Mikos explained to the agency's board of directors that HARC not only billed for dead people, it filled out paperwork stating they were satisfied with the work performed.

"We billed services on deceased people and we said how they loved their yard work," Mikos told the board.

"That's a shocking allegation," HARC Foundation chairman Steven Brannock said in January. "If that happened, and it happened improperly, we would be just as angry about it as the state."

Atwater said it happened, and the fact that HARC took money from other developmentally disabled people is despicable.

The state became aware that something was up with HARC's billing in the HomeLink program when former employee Tiffany Thomas filed a lawsuit against the agency. She claimed that former HARC CFO Frank Pannullo pressured her to create false documents for the HomeLink program using names from a Meals On Wheels program.

Pannullo told 8 On Your Side in February, though he signed the invoices, he knew nothing about billing the state for people who were already dead.

"You've got to understand I was not involved at all in the programmatic part of that program," he said.

Pannullo was fired by former CEO Richard Lilliston.

When the board discovered in late 2011 that Lilliston and Pannullo both collected unauthorized $1,800 a month car allowances, it fired Lilliston.

Lilliston has refused comment on anything related to HARC.

Atwater had plenty to say.

"They were pulling money down from the state that could've gone to others in need and it was not an accident. This was intentional they had all the documentation they knew what they were doing they thought they'd get away with it," Atwater said.

Since HARC had no money and its assets were leveraged beyond their value, Atwater says DFS sat down with the company insuring HARC's board and officers and worked out a settlement.

Last summer Mikos warned HARC's board the state might seek $2 million dollars in restitution, fines and penalties.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER:  @WFLATAMPA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • 1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:55:47 GMT
    WFLA file photo.WFLA file photo.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
  • An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:53 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:53:07 GMT
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.

  • Back to School: Special shoe store for little girls

    Back to School: Special shoe store for little girls

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 6:51 AM EDT2014-07-30 10:51:59 GMT
    Colete Glover-Hannah has turned her living room into a mini shoe store.
    Colete Glover-Hannah has turned her living room into a mini shoe store.
  • NewsMore>>

  • 1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    1 dead, 1 sickened from flesh-eating bacteria in Sarasota

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:55:47 GMT
    WFLA file photo.WFLA file photo.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
    Sarasota County health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after one person died and another was sickened by a flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Florida's CFO: Insurance customers entitled to refunds

    Florida's CFO: Insurance customers entitled to refunds

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:37:47 GMT
    Consumers who bought insurance plans but could not use them in the early days of the Affordable Care Act rollout should be able to get a refund, Florida’s chief financial officer told News Channel 8. Some customers who signed up for plans and paid premiums didn’t initially receive ID cards or numbers from insurance company Florida Blue in early 2014.
    Consumers who bought insurance plans but could not use them in the early days of the Affordable Care Act rollout should be able to get a refund, Florida’s chief financial officer told News Channel 8. Some customers who signed up for plans and paid premiums didn’t initially receive ID cards or numbers from insurance company Florida Blue in early 2014.
  • An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    An app that repels mosquitoes? We test it.

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:53 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:53:07 GMT
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.
    Now, there's an app that claims to keep mosquitoes away. You can download the anti-mosquito sonic repeller on your smart phone.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Small cars fare poorly in crash tests

    Small cars fare poorly in crash tests

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:59 AM EDT2014-07-30 07:59:53 GMT
    The four-door Mini Cooper Countryman was the only one of 12 cars to earn a top rating of "good" in new frontal crash tests.
    The four-door Mini Cooper Countryman was the only one of 12 cars to earn a top rating of "good" in new frontal crash tests.
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:14:31 GMT
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.
  • Lawsuit: Failed Circumcision Never Happened

    Lawsuit: Failed Circumcision Never Happened

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-07-29 19:33:55 GMT
    Doctors accused of amputating a man’s penis during a circumcision asking for dismissal
    Doctors accused of amputating a man’s penis during a circumcision asking for dismissal
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.