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Refugee Resettlement Agency Investigated For Misusing Federal Funds

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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A Wisconsin nonprofit that works with refugees is being investigated for misusing federal funds, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Pan-African Community Association received $1,089,391 in federal grants between in 2012 and 2015, according to USAspending.gov. The group allegedly gave some of that money to at least 32 people ineligible to receive refugee assistance, according to an investigation by the Office of Refugee Resettlement obtained by the Journal Sentinel.

Investigators discovered “fundamental issues” with a program that gave cash to individuals who saved a certain amount of money toward a car or home, and a “lack of program oversight and adequate accounting procedures.” (RELATED: Trump: Clinton’s 550 Percent Increase Of Syrian Refugees To US Would Be The ‘Great Trojan Horse Of All Time’)

The Pan-African Community Association said the misuse of funds was not fraud, but was the fault of a single employee who was in charge of the Individual Development Accounts program.

“I was not controlling her activities the way I should have. I was not having proper oversight,” he said. “We blame her for lack of competence, but nobody has embezzled any money in this situation,” Fessahaye Mebrahtu, executive director of the association, told the Journal Sentinel.

That employee no longer works with the association, Mebrahtu said. (RELATED: Gov’t Plans $1 Million For Refugee Job Training)

“The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) upholds its responsibility to ensure taxpayer funds are used appropriately and consistently within established grant guidelines,” Victoria Palmer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Administration for Children & Families, told the Journal Sentinel. “ORR is actively working on recovering the funds.” (RELATED: Gov’t Throws $4.6 Million At Refugees For ‘Emotional Wellness’)

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the ORR, requested a total of $2.2 billion for all “refugee and entrant assistance” in 2017, which is $510 million more than its 2016 budget.

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