A state agency charged with protecting money for people with disabilities reported thousands of dollars missing and repaid it with taxpayer money.
The Department of Developmental Services is a key link in the daily lives of thousands of people across Connecticut, according to those it serves.
Because its clients face challenges, the trust placed in DDS employees is high.
According to property loss reports obtained by the I-Team, DDS facilities around the state had clients’ money missing.
Most of the losses were small.
In Norwich, two residents lost $10 each. In Middletown, three residents shared $56 in losses. At Waterford Commons in Manchester, it was $40 in group grocery money that disappeared.
On Pine Street in Manchester, however, the problem was much greater.
The reports had $8,231 belonging to six residents missing. One individual resident lost nearly $6,500 in what DDS called “financial exploitation.”
After each internal audit, the thefts were reported to Manchester police. In the cases, the state reimbursed the individuals. That meant in the end, taxpayers bought it and the state lost it.
DDS sent the I-Team a statement that said it takes allegations of financial improprieties seriously and beyond its own investigation, it often refers cases to police.
It also wanted to say that it pushed for a change in state law last year that would allow the department to place people who steal from their clients on the abuse and neglect registry.
Here’s the complete statement from DDS spokesperson Joan Barnish.
"The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) takes any allegation of financial exploitation very seriously in order to protect the individuals we serve. All allegations are investigated by the DDS Division of Investigations, Audit Division and reviewed by the agency's Human Resources Division and if necessary, referred to local authorities. During the 2014 legislative session, DDS advocated for a statutory change that now allows the department to include the names of employees who have substantiated allegations of abuse by way of financial exploitation on the DDS Abuse and Neglect Registry."
For more I-Team investigations, including “You bought it, they lost it” stories, click here.
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