Allegations of fraud, misuse of funds at Dorchester Senior Cntr - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Allegations of fraud, misuse of funds at Dorchester Co. Senior Center

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The letters, written by Councilman Larry Hargett from April to July, allege DSI is abusive, wasteful and fraudulent. The letters, written by Councilman Larry Hargett from April to July, allege DSI is abusive, wasteful and fraudulent.

Dorchester County Seniors, Inc., (DSI) a non-profit senior center, has obtained letters exchanged between a Dorchester County councilman, a board member and the office of the inspector general.

The letters, written by Councilman Larry Hargett from April to July, allege DSI is abusive, wasteful and fraudulent. Dorchester Seniors Center Board member Marvin Johnson also signed the letters. Johnson and Hargett claim DSI is not transparent with financial information and wrongfully in the state's pension system because, they claim, DSI is a privately funded company.

DSI Director, Jean Ott, tells News 2 she requested the letters via the Freedom of Information Act and was shocked to read the accusations, stating all of them are untrue and will only make obtaining funding more difficult.  The center is already struggling with a growing senior population.

Patrick Maley with the Office of the Inspector General did initially deny the request for an investigation at DSI, via written correspondence, stating it was not within their jurisdiction. After more correspondence it appears Maley did meet with Hargett and Johnson. Although the result of that meeting is unclear, Maley did send a letter to the lieutenant governor's office last month to further investigate. Stating, "the complainants have no specific allegations of wrongdoing. They are only suspicious by the DSI's refusal to transparently disclose how its $2 million annual budget is being spent, which is comprised of county taxes, state taxes, and donations."

Chairman of County Council Bill Hearn said council members and DSI need to move forward because they've done enough to "scandalize" the senior center.

David Chinnis said they had no idea these letters were being sent on council letterhead.  "There is no man behind the curtain... We are finally not being asked to appoint a man who refuses to be a part if something he's been asked to do," Chinnis said referring to Johnson.

Ott said she meets with the county every year to discuss the budget.

Larry Hargett announced he will remove Marvin Johnson from the senior board within the month.

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