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Audit: Saint Francis Ministries in decline as it sought Nebraska contract

Saint Francis Ministries
Posted at 6:16 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 19:16:11-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP and KMTV) — A new Kansas audit says a child welfare provider that served Omaha-area families was plagued with mounting debt, poor money management and other problems even before it won a Nebraska state contract.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the audit of Kansas-based Saint Francis Ministries shows a nonprofit in financial disarray, with managers who spent money on themselves instead of programs and a chief executive at the time who enjoyed lavish trips paid for by the organization.

The audit also states that Saint Francis has since taken steps to correct those issues. A Saint Francis spokesperson says the organization is now financially stable.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, complaints on Saint Francis Ministries' financial situation came a few months after a contract with Nebraska was signed.

Saint Francis' contract with Nebraska is sent to end early next year. Both sides agreed to end the contract earlier this month.

In a three-year period, the picture of Saint Francis' finances drastically changed. According to the World-Herald, in 2016 the organization had $7.4 million with access to $21,000 on a line of credit. By the end of 2019, Saint Francis had $10,816 and accessed a little over $9 million in credit.

Former CEO Robert Smith racked up questionable expenses, according to the World-Herald, including trips to Great Britain and Ireland, with the audit finding no work purpose for the trips.

There was a meeting in Chicago during a trip there, but expenses for the trip also included Cubs tickets, limousine service and a social club. The matters were discovered as a result of an anonymous whistleblower in November 2019.

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