JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - An audit of former Saints Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson's charity shows officials overpaid the organization over a 30-month period when administering reimbursements as part of a federal grant program.
The Jefferson Parish Office of Inspector General found the Rickey Jackson Community Hope Center, which offers after-school programs and educational opportunities for at-risk youth, received nearly $7,200 in overpayments from the parish, and often received reimbursement without proper documentation of expenditures.
"Definitively, it was payments that we reimbursed Rickey Jackson's foundation for that were never expended," IG David McClintock said.
McClintock said his office looked over more than $200,000 in reimbursement payments to the community center and identified 78 percent of those as questionable. The audit showed nearly $7,200 should have never been paid to the charity.
"The rate of questioning here is fairly high, 78 percent of all funds expended, and we're talking over a 30-month period. So this isn't a bad month, this isn't something that happened during staff turnover, this is a practice that happened in the Community Development Department," McClintock said.
Essentially, McClintock said the Community Development Department, which was charged with reimbursing the foundation using federal grant dollars as well as parish money, never checked if reimbursement requests from the community center had receipts.
In one case, the parish paid Jackson's charity $2,500 for A/C work, but when auditors questioned the company that did the work, they said, "They were never paid for this work and had to write off the $2,500 as bad debt."
The audit shows more than a dozen other payments were reimbursed without a receipt or proof that the vendor was paid in a timely manner.
"When we question for timeliness, what timeliness really means is that we received support for the reimbursement, sometimes after the reimbursement was made," McClintock said.
Following the audit, the parish promised to make significant changes, including preventing reimbursement without approved proof of payment.
As for Jackson's community center, the parish has already withheld more than $3,100 in reimbursement requests in an attempt to recoup some tax-payer money.
"They certainly appear to be going back and trying to tidy this up. The biggest problem with this audit and this situation is, unfortunately, it is demonstrative of a pattern. The parish has not had a great track record, at least recently, of administering grants," McClintock said.
Rickey Jackson maintains his charity never received any overpayments and said he's never taken money from his foundation, only given his own money to support the cause.
The parish plans to seek reimbursement for the additional money it overpaid the foundation.