New England Farm Workers’ expenses examined in audit

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A prominent Springfield-based nonprofit organization used more than $700,000 in state funds for expenses that may not have been reimbursable, the state auditor says.

Auditor Suzanne Bump released a report on the New England Farm Workers’ Council Tuesday, which found that between 2010 and 2012, the organization did not ensure they properly documented expenses paid for with state funds.

The expenses identified in the report included:

  • $454,871 in three years worth of salary payments to NEFWC’s CEO
  • $162,590 in consulting services
  • $35,750 in interest payments on a loan to purchase a building not associated with NEFWC’s state-funded programs
  • $32,477 in unallowable travel expenses paid to the CEO

“The question,” Bump said in a statement sent to 22News “is not whether NEFWC should have engaged in these activities. It is whether they should have been paid for with state resources.”

The 22News I-Team talked to the organization’s CEO, Herbie Flores and his attorney Bill Bennett, who say the state analyzed their documentation incorrectly.

According to Bennett, “When you look at what Partners for Community had provided and we did provide this to the auditor, the full compensation was documented, it was reported to IRS, it was reported to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, their suggestion is really without merit.”

Bennett says Flores is paid by “Partners for Community” not the New England Farm Workers Council, even though he oversees all of them.

“What we’re having over here is a question of $700,000 which my understanding is 0.6 percent or something like that, which we should be to the penny, but when you run that kind of a place, in terms of the salary, we have a compensation committee that reviews, I do not set up my salary,” said Flores.

Flores’ attorney Bill Bennett told the I-Team they are prepared to provide additional information to the state.

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