Lawmakers ask for criminal probe of Middleton foster care agency - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Lawmakers ask for criminal probe of Middleton foster care agency

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Two republican state senators asked Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen for a criminal probe of a Middleton foster care agency, after a state audit found nearly $5 million in questionable state reimbursements to the business.

"In light of the allegations against Community Care Resources, Inc. of Middleton, we request that the Department of Justice and our Attorney General take action and investigate these findings," wrote Senate Health and Human Service committee chair, Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), and Joint Legislative Audit Committee Co-Chair, Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay).

A spokesperson for Van Hollen has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News.

State documents show Community Care Resources' license to offer foster care services is to be revoked Thursday, after a revocation letter and audit review flagged what state officials said were inappropriate state reimbursements to the agency, including: (1) home improvements to owner Dan Simon's Oregon home, and homes elsewhere in Wisconsin; (2) purchases of a number of cars and trucks over time by Simon, including a 2010 Lexus RX 350; (3) nearly $3,000 to support a trip by Simon and his wife, employee Mary Simon, in which Mary Simon competed in the Boston Marathon,  and (4) over $500,000 in salary overpayments over several years to both Simons. The questionable reimbursements were first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.

In audit documents with Simon's firm's response to state claims, the company defended expense submissions, and in the case of alleged overpayments, maintained Simon's "salary (was)...inordinately low," in comparison with executives in similar positions in the industry. Simon's salary was more than $300,000.

Vukmir told 27 News a committee hearing is planned to allow representatives of the department of children families an opportunity to explain monitoring of the Middleton agencies and other foster care providers. Vukmir's interview with 27 News took place after she held a meeting with DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson.

Vukmir reinforced regulatory powers granted to state agencies in 2011 allowed DCF to conduct a more comprehensive audit of Community Care Resources, Inc. and discover the alleged improper payments.

DCF officials said counties are making payments to foster care providers instead of Community Care Resources. Vukmir said Community Care Resources covered foster services in more than twenty five counties and involving more than one hundred children. Officials have indicated no issues with providing services to foster children.

Simon did not respond to a request for comment from 27 News.

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