A check by state Auditor Charlie Janssen's office into the financial operations of a Falls City nonprofit found problems with mileage reimbursement and expense and travel logs of the director. 

Janssen's office said that after being contacted about concerns with Project Response, it did preliminary work, but determined a full financial audit wasn't warranted. 

The examination by the auditor showed Project Response Director Dawn Parriott might also have used the nonprofit credit card for personal purchases, which she later paid back, and approved her own expense vouchers and signed her own paychecks. 

Project Response provides support and advocacy for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse and their families.  

The nonprofit gets more than half of its income from government grants, according to its 2014 federal income tax records. In 2014 and 2015, Project Response received more than $250,000 from the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Crime Commission. 

Other government grants, provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, totaled more than $143,000. 

The Auditor's office expressed its biggest concerns about Parriott's travel reimbursements and the lack of documentation to support them.

Twenty-three days worth of travel expenses in 2015 for workshops, totaling $8,871, might have been falsified, the auditor said. And there was a lack of any documentation for 82 days of travel for workshops, meetings and conferences, totaling $23,481. 

Also, there were unreasonable mileage reimbursements and travel expenses paid prior to or during trips, the auditor's report said. 

"Whether legitimate or otherwise, none of the agendas provided for these trips contained sufficient details to substantiate whether the conference or workshop actually occurred," the auditor's report said. 

The agendas provided included titles and topics easily found using a Google search, the report said. 

For proper internal control, procedures should ensure payments made for travel are supported by adequate documentation, with details, and other records, the report said. 

"Without such procedures, there is an increased risk for misuse of Project Response funds," the auditor's office said. 

Parriott's salary is paid through grant funds and her travel is paid by donations and other funds. 

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The Project Response Board of Directors, of which Father Thomas Dunavan is president, told the auditor's office it met with Parriott on June 16 to discuss the concerns. 

The board said it would seek to implement the auditor's recommendations in a timely fashion.

Dunavan told the Journal Star it appears to the board that documentation by the director needs to improve. 

"Dawn wants to cooperate with us on everything and with what the auditor found," he said. "She seems to be pretty transparent with things, and until that's proven otherwise I guess I'm standing behind her until she gives me a reason why I shouldn't."

Janssen's office forwarded a copy of the report to the Nemaha County Attorney's Office for review and any appropriate action, and Dunavan said he will leave it to that office to investigate the issues further. 

Parriott could not be immediately reached to respond to the report. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.


State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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