I-Team looks into missing items at the Department of Mental Heal - WFSB 3 Connecticut


I-Team looks into missing items at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

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The mental health facility on Vine Street in Hartford. The mental health facility on Vine Street in Hartford.

For more than a decade, the I-Team has been tracking lost and stolen items purchased with taxpayer money.

For this fall’s investigation, the I-Team discovered missing items from a state mental health department.

The mission is clear on the website for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Its job is to improve the quality of life for people in Connecticut.

It works with some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. They are people battling addition, mental health issues and other demons.

The department’s job is to help lead those people to recovery.

That’s partly why some forms from the state comptroller's office caught the I-Team’s attention.

They’re all items purchased with taxpayer dollars, intended to help DMHAS clients, but were lost.

One of the items was a 2001 Dodge minivan. The form said it was bought back in 2010.

It disappeared from a parking lot at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown last October. Police said they’re investigating.

There was also a problem with gift cards. The cards were meant to be used to support clients.

Instead, they disappeared from a building on Vine Street in Hartford.

In July, four $100 cars disappeared. In September, there were to thefts totaling more than $1,800.

After those cards were stolen, the department decided to keep the cards in a safe.

Last year, the agency reported to the state comptroller that $63,692 in federal funds that were supposed to be used for clients was stolen by an employee.

That employee was busted and though it was federal funds, it was still more than $60,000 of taxpayer money that went missing.

DMHAS communications director Mary Kate Mason gave the I-Team a statement that said:

The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services takes stewardship of state and client property very seriously and implements corrective action to control mishandling of resources, including reporting incidents of loss to the Comptroller’s office and the state auditors.  When applicable, incidents are also reported to the Office of State Ethics for follow-up.

The loss reports provided, stemming from incidents occurring in past years, have been addressed through internal investigations and subsequent corrective actions.  Internal reviews that reveal staff misconduct lead to a range of disciplinary action from reprimands up to and including termination.  Inventory controls pertaining to issues identified in these loss reports have been implemented where appropriate.

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