NEW YORK (AP) — A nonprofit organization hired by New York City to help residents find local employment faked 1,400 job placements and possibly many more, investigators said Friday.
Officials at the local Workforce1 centers run by Seedco — a nonprofit that operates in 14 states and Washington, D.C. — ordered subordinates to collect information on past and present employment from potential and current clients, then used the data to falsely report that they had placed the individuals in jobs, the city Department of Investigation found.
At times, the organization claimed credit for placing people in jobs they'd lost before seeking help, investigators said. The investigation covered a period from 2010 to 2011, but a city policy permitting the shredding of many documents means that an untold number of additional false claims may never be uncovered.
The inquiry followed an August New York Times column that detailed the allegations of a whistleblower who was a former deputy director at one of the centers. Bill Harper's complaints to his managers had earlier led to an internal audit in April that didn't uncover much of the wrongdoing. Investigators said that audit had examined only inconsistencies with start dates.
City officials said they didn't learn of the depth of the allegations until they surfaced in the newspaper, when they quickly referred the matter to city investigators.
"Seedco was engaged in fraudulent practices, which is completely unacceptable and won't be tolerated," Rob Walsh, commissioner of the city Department of Small Business Services, said in a statement. "SBS has taken immediate action to end contracts with Seedco and to strengthen our job placement validation process."