TOPEKA — Former Saint Francis Ministries CEO Robert Smith exploited a abridgement of banking controls and lath blank to cesspool the nonprofit’s assets on an IT activity and ascent administration costs that included use of aborigine funds for claimed travel, liquor and entertainment.
By June 30, 2019, the nonprofit was bottomward to aloof $10,816 in banknote and abutting its $10 actor borrowing absolute from Intrust Bank. Smith kept the alignment afloat with a abstracted $10 actor accommodation from the Paycheck Protection Affairs in April 2020, alike admitting the nonprofit wasn’t acceptable for the federal communicable abatement with its nine-figure account and 1,600 employees.
Based on the new analysis findings, DCF is allurement Saint Francis to accord $22,913 for Smith’s claimed costs that were answerable to the state. New Saint Francis CEO William Clark responded by allurement the accompaniment to accommodate an added $4.6 actor to pay for casework that weren’t accounted for in 2019.
DCF aghast at the request, and it isn’t bright how the banking altercation will be resolved.
“We do not altercate clandestine communications that action with our accompaniment partners,” said Morgan Rothenberger, backer for Saint Francis. “Child abundance acceding is a circuitous system, and, as with any arrangement in the states in which we operate, there are abounding factors to accede as we assignment with our ally to accommodate affection care.”
DCF commissioned the Topeka-based BT and Co. accounting close to appraise the banking adherence of Saint Francis and allegations of adventuresome spending that alike in an bearding whistleblower’s letter to DCF in November 2019.
The close began the analysis in January 2020 and advised spending amid July 1, 2018, and Sept. 30, 2019.
“I admit that new administration is authoritative advance in abounding of the areas articular in the analysis report, including demography accomplish to abode their banking position, implementing able centralized controls and bigger lath captivation in banking administration and key decisions,” DCF secretary Laura Howard said in a account for this story. “DCF will abide to advance an added ecology and advertisement accord to ensure advancing apropos are addressed. Saint Francis charcoal a admired accomplice in our assignment to advance the Kansas adolescent abundance system.”
The analysis capacity a astringent abatement in Saint Francis’ assets during a three-year aeon beneath Smith’s leadership.
In June 2016, the nonprofit captivated $7.3 actor in banknote and had aloof $21,000 fatigued on its band of credit. Absolute assets were admired at $29.7 million. Three years later, with little banknote and ascent debt, assets were bottomward to $16.7 million.
Smith accustomed at Saint Francis in 2014 as a priest advancing by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The abbey has disciplined Smith for application poor judgment while active Saint Francis, and it reinstated his priesthood beforehand this ages in allotment because no new allegations were accepted to apparent in the DCF audit.
BT and Co. advised a sample of added than 200 expenditures accretion $934,210 from the budgetary year that concluded June 30, 2019 — out of $103,234,435 in absolute expenses. Auditors apparent there was no approval or analysis of Smith’s expenses, and every account of his was missing receipts.
“There were biking costs and auberge accuse in about every ages beheld in the sample, abounding of these appearing boundless for actual nice hotels, aboriginal chic flights, and several accuse for commons and entertainment,” the analysis abode said.
Saint Francis didn’t apply a arch banking administrator or banking ambassador amid January 2018 and September 2020, which the analysis articular as a mistake. The analysis begin no affirmation that the lath of admiral anytime advised Smith’s acclaim agenda purchases or bulk reimbursements. Policies acute approval of $1,000 purchases and bifold signatures for $5,000 costs were not consistently followed.
Smith’s biking costs included trips with no business purpose to Oregon, London, Dublin and Florida. A cruise to Chicago, which coincided with a lath meeting, included auto services, Chicago Cubs tickets and costs at the University Club of Chicago.
Smith additionally acclimated his American Express agenda issued through Saint Francis to pay for Sirius XM cable fees, Salina Community Theatre tickets, booze from Brooks Liquor Store in Salina, Apple iTunes accuse and Amazon purchases. There were added than $21,000 in accuse for NFL and MLB tickets.
Smith abiding a accord on Sept. 9, 2019, to wire $65,000 to an bearding “third-party agent” to purchase Chicago Cubs playoff tickets — four seats and aloof parking passes in the Maker’s Mark and 1914 Club sections, a absolute of eight tickets. Beneath the agreement, Saint Francis accustomed the abettor to resell the tickets and breach the profits equally. Because of the abridgement of Saint Francis documentation, auditors were ambiguous whether the money was anytime avant-garde to the agent, but the funds would accept been alternate to Saint Francis back the characterless Cubs bootless to accomplish the playoffs.
Sampling adumbrated $21,913.25 of Smith’s costs were answerable to Kansas but not accustomed beneath the acceding with DCF. Of that amount, Saint Francis says it has provided affidavit for $5,923.60 in authentic expenses.
Auditors flagged a arrangement amid Saint Francis and WMK Research for its amazing amount and the aegis accident of outsourcing all IT controls.
The IT company’s owner, Bill Whymark, answerable $10.3 actor to Saint Francis for his IT casework amid December 2017 and June 2020. Abounding of the invoices weren’t accustomed afore they were paid, and the blow were accustomed by Smith by email aural account of accepting them. They included accuse for iPhones, OtterBox cases, and biking for Whymark and his abutment team. Sequential antithesis numbers adumbrated to auditors that Saint Francis was one of the company’s alone customers.
Smith, in statements appear afterwards abrogation Saint Francis, has approved to ambit himself from Whymark by abstinent the two were anytime business partners. Auditors call Whymark as “a accompanying party” to Smith.
When the IT arrangement comatose in 2019, it wiped out banking annal for a six-month period. Saint Francis has formed with bristles consultants to restore the abstracts and concluded its accord with Whymark beforehand this year.
Auditors additionally flagged accounting problems with the spreadsheet Saint Francis acclimated to clue account fees. The auditors begin numbers adamantine keyed over formulas to accomplish debits and credits balance. The accounting was able and advised by the aforementioned person, an “improper allegory of duties,” the analysis abode said.
BT and Co activated several metrics to appra
ise nonprofit finances. The amount of casework provided by Saint Francis slipped from 87% of absolute costs in 2016 to 83% by 2019. The ambition is to be aloft 85%. Meanwhile, administration costs added from 12% of absolute costs in 2016 to 16% in 2019. For nonprofits, administration costs should break beneath 12.5%.
Rothenberger, the backer for Saint Francis, said the alignment has “closed this chapter” and is focused on advance fabricated beneath accepted leadership.
“We are admiring with the BT and Co. report, as the abode shows that accompaniment and federal dollars accept been acclimated as intended,” Rothenberger said. “The final abode provides affirmation to DCF and our alien stakeholders that Saint Francis is appropriately spending and accounting for accompaniment and federal funds.”
Howard, the DCF secretary, formally notified Saint Francis of the analysis allegation in a letter anachronous Oct. 8.
She asked for acceptance that the alignment had addressed problems articular in the audit.
“DCF acknowledges the advance fabricated in several authoritative and banking areas, including acclamation banking adherence of the organization,” Howard said. “Continued advance in these areas, accurately apropos appropriate and authentic account banking letters and accompanying documents, will be important in our connected partnership.”
Clark, the accepted CEO of Saint Francis, responded in an Oct. 14 letter that said the alignment has a three-year plan to achieve banking sustainability. He absorbed an absolute appraisal by Connor Consulting Corp. as affirmation that able controls were in place.
“Saint Francis has taken abundant accomplish over the accomplished year to abode both the banking position of the alignment and all-embracing management,” Clark wrote. “We accept formed agilely to ensure added able controls, processes, procedures and blank are in place.”
However, he refused Howard’s appeal to accord about $22,000 for Smith’s claimed expenses. Instead, Saint Francis expects to be paid $4.6 actor for casework provided in 2019, he said.
“Given the ample banking loss, we do not intend to accommodate any anatomy of acceding to the state,” Clark wrote.
Mike Deines, a agent for DCF, said the bureau doesn’t owe added funds to Saint Francis and no added architect has fabricated a agnate request.
Most business can apprehend the U.S. Small Business Administration to absolve PPP loans, but the affairs was belted to businesses with beneath than 500 employees, or those with a net account of beneath than $15 actor and net assets of beneath than $5 million.
The analysis abode said Saint Francis consulted with an advocate who adumbrated the alignment wasn’t acceptable for the accommodation and would accept to acknowledgment the money.
“The actuality that it is acclimatized is as abundant as we are accessible to discussing,” Rothenberger said in acknowledgment to a catechism gluttonous accuracy on the issue.
After this adventure was published, Saint Francis provided the afterward account about the PPP loan:
“Saint Francis Ministries, in affiliation with our lender, followed the assigned action for PPP forgiveness. Eligibility was advised during the absolution action and Saint Francis accustomed approval. We able for the PPP based on the another admeasurement standard.”
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