State Audit Uncovers Nepotism, Mismanaged Funds at Bridgeville S - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

State Audit Uncovers Nepotism, Mismanaged Funds at Bridgeville Senior Center

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(Photo: Del. State Auditor) (Photo: Del. State Auditor)

BRIDGEVILLE, Del. -- The future of the Bridgeville Senior Center may be in jeopardy after the state auditor's office uncovered hundreds of thousands in mismanaged funds.

Delaware's State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner says the center mismanaged more than $350,000, including more than $150,000 in state grant aid, since November 2013.

Wagner says an anonymous tip sparked the audit.

"With the way they kept their records you couldn't really make any determination of how exactly they spent that money," said Wagner.

"All nonprofits that receive money from the state, be it grant aid or direct dollars from the state, have an obligation to be able to demonstrate how they spent that money and the services that we're paying them for them to provide are properly accounted for," the state auditor said.

Wagner says the center's use of the accounting software Quickbooks may have led to some of the fiscal mismanagement, in addition to the center not having an accountant or bookkeeper.

Wagner says one of the biggest finds in the audit revealed an inappropriate personnel relationship that could have compromised how the funds were handled.

"There was some self-dealing," said Wagner, "in essence the chairman of the board and the executive director are husband and wife and those type of connections is a major red flag."

WBOC reached out to the center's chairman of the board, Gary Cannon, and he could not be reached for comment.

WBOC did speak to the center's executive director, Annette Cannon, about how the center wound up in this situation.

Cannon said they are not sure what went wrong, and told WBOC that she's only been the executive director for a few weeks.

However, the state audit report says Cannon has been in charge of the center since November 13, 2013, around the time when the accounting records went downhill.

Wagner says the center has some time to correct their finances because they've already been paid for the last quarter. But if the center does not remedy their finances to the satisfaction of the State Controller General, the center could lose state support.

Losing $150,000 could mean less services available to the seniors who frequent the center. Seniors like Patricia Holden who lives across the street from the center at the Market Street Apartments.

Holden lives a simple life alone. She has her crossword puzzles, antique dolls and a television.

But the hot meals, activities and company Holden finds daily at the Bridgeville Senior Center is an important staple of her life.

"I hate to miss just one day," said Holden.

"If i'm sick I like go right back over there. I love it. I mean they let you paint, make things. That's why we're trying to get more people to come there," said Holden. 

Holden says she has a daughter in Millsboro who she rarely sees. She says she would have nowhere to go if the center shut down.

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