State, foster care agency reach settlement

Agency will keep license, pay portion of alleged stolen amount

Published On: Oct 04 2013 06:35:59 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 04 2013 08:12:34 PM CDT

The state has settled with a Middleton foster care placement company accused of stealing millions of dollars. Community Care Resources will get their license back, and the company is only paying a portion of what they were originally accused of stealing.

CCR is one of the state's largest foster care placement agencies. In February the owners, Dan and Mary Simon, were accused of overcharging the state $6.1 million.

The state Department of Children and Families alleged money was used for vacations, a Lexus, as well as Internet, TV and landscaping for three homes. CCR filed an appeal with the state, claiming the agency vastly overestimated unallowable charges.

In the settlement reached this week, DCF withdrew the license revocation on the terms that CCR pay the state just more than $1 million. The agreement states it is "in no way to be construed as an admission of wrongdoing," but CCR will get "new internal control procedures."

DCF said in a statement Friday "DCF aggressively investigated and pursued the return of questioned costs and expenses that CCR claimed between 2009 and 2011. Following the lead of Governor Walker, the Department of Children and Families is committed to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars."

Also in a statement CCR reaffirmed that they had committed no fraud.

"The state erred and overstated in it's accusations against CCR," the statement said. "All payments in dispute were properly documented and the vast majority of DCF's claims were the product of math and accounting errors by the state."

In a February legislative hearing, DCF told lawmakers that audit tools allowed them to find fraud.

"Our staff said, 'Give us your financial information so we can take a look at what's behind all your expenses,' and that's when these things were uncovered," said Ron Hunt, administrator for DCF in the February hearing.

Joint Audit Committee Co-Chair Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, immediately requested the state audit foster care placement companies. Cowles said he'll reserve judgement until the audit is complete.

"Once that audit comes out we will get the true information, " said Cowles Friday. "We would hope the audit would cover the situation that came up today as well as other agencies working with the state."

That audit is expected out soon.

There was also a request that the attorney general investigate the matter. A spokesman for the Department of Justice said they are not currently investigating the company, but declined to say whether an investigation had taken place.

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