If there was ever a situation highlighting the need for whistleblowers, it may be Relief Resources, Inc, a New York City nonprofit that receives millions in tax dollars. A New York Post story this weekend questions whether the agency provides any services for the millions in tax dollars it receives.
The details are still being sorted out and Relief Resources has not been charged with any wrongdoing. According to the company’s website, Relief Resources provides referral services for those in the Jewish faith community suffering from mental health issues. A camera allegedly mounted outside the agency’s Brooklyn office, however, found little or no foot traffic. That’s because the office is virtually unmanned.
Public records show the non-profit received $2.9 million in state tax funding since 2005. Where did the money go? That’s the big question today.
Last year the agency took in $1.8 million. $963,000 of that money was spent on salaries. $317,415 was spent to help just five people! The agency also spent money on a top shelf lobbying firm.
We frequently see supposed nonprofits that are nothing more than a vehicle to scam money from donors or taxpayers.We can’t imagine a company that serves less than 20 people spending half their budget (approximately $1 million) on salaries.
Unfortunately, in some cities, corruption and fraud are the norm. (Earlier this year we wrote about a tree trimming service in metro Atlanta that was receiving tax dollars to trim trees on municipal streets. According to published reports, the guy operating the service didn’t even own a saw and no trees were trimmed.)
The investigation of Relief Resources is not complete and their is some question as to whether the company provides services in Canada and Israel. If so, why are they taking New York state tax dollars?
Something isn’t right with this story. Hopefully New York’s anti-corruption task force, the Moreland Commission, will soon share what is going on. We sincerely hope that the Post is wrong and that their is some reasonable explanation. Unfortunately, we see these same stories weekly from New York, Cleveland, New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.
Cases like this provide real opportunities for whistleblowers under the False Claims Act. The federal whistleblower law requires a loss to a federally funded program but New York has it’s own whistleblower act. Both the federal and New York False Claims Act pays whistleblowers a percent of whatever the government recovers. If Relief Resources is misusing tax funds and New York is able to claw back the money, a whistleblower would earn about $600,000.
The agency has not formal comment and claims it was not aware of an investigation.
To qualify as a whistleblower under the false claims act, you need just three things.
First, you must have original source information. Absent inside information, you can’t file a lawsuit and become entitled to a cash award.
Next their must be a loss to a government program.
Finally, you need a desire to eliminate fraud and waste.
To earn a cash award, whistleblowers must submit a summary of their knowledge to the government and file a lawsuit in court against the company or person who is defrauding taxpayers. Those lawsuits are “sealed” meaning they are kept secret while the government investigates.
If you think you qualify, give us a call. Our whistleblower lawyers have helped people across the United States stop fraud and collect the maximum possible award. Currently we represent the whistleblower in the largest pending false claims act case against a bank or lender anywhere in the U.S.; HUD’s $2.4 billion complaint against Allied Home Mortgage.
Obviously not all cases have losses in the billions of dollars but the U.S. government is very interested in pursuing false claims act cases. To learn if you may qualify for a whistleblower claim, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries are kept in strict confidence.
Post by Brian Mahany, Esq.