Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – The Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Fe has agreed in a settlement to pay $1.4 million after it was awarded federal special project grants for a facility that was never built, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque has announced.
The organization was awarded grants from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase land in 2005 at 1107 Ocate Road in Santa Fe and to build a facility there, according to a news release.
“The government asserted that the Club failed to build a new facility and then did not return the funds as prescribed by HUD, federal law, and the grant agreements,” the release states.
Lawsuits going back several decades involving alleged sexual improprieties affected the organization’s finances, Santa Fe attorney Dan Cron, who represented the group, said Thursday.
Although they intended to build the facility “they didn’t have the money to do it,” Cron said. “It’s been repaid, the settlement has happened,” Cron said. “We cooperated fully.”
He said there was no deliberate fraud “or anything like that.”
Under the settlement, the organization paid a little more than $1.4 million to the United States government in exchange for being released “from any civil or administrative monetary claim for the Club’s conduct in this matter under the False Claims Act.”
The organization also failed to pay the government proceeds from the sale of portions of the land in violation of federal law, the grant agreements and the False Claims Act, the news release said.
A total of $750,986.51 was distributed to the group in two grants: $268,245 in 2003 and $497,050 in 2004.
The settlement amount exceeded the value of the grants because the land had increased in value, Cron said.
When the land was sold before any current board members were involved, the organization did not have an attorney, and they were unaware they were not permitted to sell it, Cron said.
“The United States relies on grant recipients to use taxpayer-funded grants appropriately,” U.S. Attorney Fred Federici said in a statement. “Failure to do so violates the law and the public trust and will be vigorously pursued by the Department of Justice.”
Cron said the organization is glad to have this matter behind it.
“The Boys and Girls Clubs provides a very valuable service to the families of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico,” he said.