Office of the Inspector General is investigating the Dunbar School Foundation’s STOP program

May 20—MORGANTOWN — A COVID-19 program created to serve the African American population in Marion and surrounding counties and funded through federal COVID funds channeled through the former Department of Health and Human Resources is being investigated by the state Office of Inspector General.

The Dominion Post learned of the investigation Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request sent March 29 and received by the Department of Human Services on April 1. One of the duties of the OIG is “to conduct investigations of suspected fraud and abuse within the programs the department administers.”

The program is the Dunbar School STOP Foundation (also known as DSF Stop). The Dominion Post published a series of stories beginning in May 2023 detailing allegations of misspending by program leaders.

We learned at the time that DSF Stop was already under DDR review – a review that goes beyond routine monitoring procedures and that began in July 2022, based on a tip that led DHHR to designate DSF (Stop’s parent organization) ‘as a beneficiary considered ‘high risk’. that warrants additional monitoring beyond the standard level of monitoring required for all DHHR grant awards.”

DSF Stop ceased operations in June 2023 and left its headquarters near downtown Fairmont, across the street from the former Dunbar High School.

The Dominion Post then maintained regular contact with DHHR for updates on the review and was repeatedly told that the review was continuing and that there was no expected completion date.

Following the breakup of DHHR into three entities, The Dominion Post was addressed to two media contacts at the Department of Human Services on February 22 of this year, who did not respond to requests for updates sent on February 22 and March 5.

The newspaper subsequently filed a FOIA request for DSF Stop’s financial records and documentation of any agency reviews of DSF Stop as of April 1, 2023.

The request was denied, Monday’s letter said, because the OIG has an open and active investigation into DSF. All records in her possession were obtained and compiled as part of the investigation and are exempt from FOIA. Additional data is deliberative and reflects OIG’s internal decision-making process and is also exempt.

Stop received two subsidies to carry out its activities. The initial grant budget for the period from April 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 was $1,197,421. A second grant, for July 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023, was for $990,000.

The allegations, detailed in the newspaper’s series of stories, related to issues such as nepotism, excessive executive salaries and bonuses, luxury vehicle rentals, possible improper cash withdrawals and possible improper spending on travel and dining.

Sources familiar with the DSF Stop program could not comment on the investigation.

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