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Building a Safe Future

Results from the 2007 audit for the Central New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office has shed light on the unfortunate funding fraud endured through efforts to build, repair and maintain group housing for residents with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

The audit, implemented by the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, reviewed the accountability of government spending within state agencies such as the CNY Developmental Disabilities Services Office.

DiNapoli's audit of the DDSO, located in Albany, stated that the Physical Plant Superintendent, both in his capacity as Maintenance Supervisor and Physical Plant Superintendent, appears to have violated several provisions of the Code of Ethics under Article 4, Section 74 of the Public Officers Law.

"This is at minimum a flagrant disregard for the law," DiNapoli said in a press release from his office. "These employees are supposed to protect taxpayers, not make up phony bids as a part of some bid rigging scheme to funnel a million taxpayer dollars to favored vendors."

The audit reported an estimated overpayment of more than $51,000 or 40 percent more than reasonable cost for 19 jobs throughout the year.

"My office will continue to work with the District Attorney (Scott D.) Developmental Disabilities Services Officeto ensure that those who acted inappropriately are held accountable," DiNapoli said in his office's press release.

Due to the dramatic overpayment for the group housing and the disregard for the use of taxpayer money, some families could begin considering a different route for their children's future independent living situation.

Long before this incident, Edna and Jeff Manzo of Liverpool have had their own plans in mind for pursuing an independent living situation for their daughter Beth, 19, who was born with Down syndrome.

"We have been open to anything," said Edna Manzo of the possibilities for Beth. "We are prepared to buy a residence on our own, rather than Beth living in a standard group home."

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