$1.2 million misplaced by taxpayer-funded group

Image by Flickr user Refracted MomentsImage by 20080806missingmoney.jpg Money: It's missing and the government is looking for it.

A local economic development group is accused of using taxpayer money improperly, and can't account for where and why that money was spent. Much of that $1.2 million could be lost.

If you didn't guess it, that group is the Berkeley Dorchester Counties Economic Development Corporation, the same group that fell under suspicion when their executive director stepped down several days ago.

NBC News 2 got ahold of report that details the findings of the audit. In short: It's a mess and seems like funds were mismanaged, and the agency didn't keep track of what money was for what. Thousands were paid to McElveen Chevrolet Hummer, and the group's Human Resources Director John Singleton, among other incidents.

That report says, in part:
[The Berkeley Dorchester Counties Economic Development Corporation] had been using Headstart funds to fund other programs and vice versa depending upon the availability of funds. Mr. Carr also stated that the Agency is running at a negative balance of approx $1.2 million in the non-federal accounts on the books of the Agency.

The report was dated August 1 and the group was given 30 days to correct the problems, as well as ordered to repay $246,000 in grant money and $37,000 in legal fees.

News 2 has much more (including video) on why and what the problem might be. The Post and Courier offers background on some of the group's past problems.

More on the issue will likely develop as the group tries to repay missing money.

Update August 7: The Post and Courier has a short post today about a tense Wednesday night meeting where the Berkeley Dorchester Counties Economic Development Corporation said that Head Start could be out of money by October 1. Head Start's programs help out poor children.