A special-education provider in Yonkers overcharged taxpayers $800,000 over four years, doling out contracts to family members and buying expensive cars, a state audit contended.
The Westchester School for Special Children entered into questionable contracts with companies tied to board members and executives, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in an audit today and obtained yesterday by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
In one example, a nearly $100,000 lobbying contract was paid to the firm of former Sen. Nick Spano, who recently served a jail term for tax evasion. The school’s executive director is Spano’s brother, Leonard.
The audit’s findings are under review by the state Attorney General’s Office, state officials said.
DiNapoli said the audit is the latest to show possible mishandling of public money at some privately run special-education providers in New York.
“As recent audits by my office have shown, special-education providers like the Westchester School for Special Children are taking advantage of lax state oversight to pad their own expenses,” DiNapoli said.
The Westchester School for Special Children provides special-education services to children and young adults, aged 3 to 21.
In an email, an attorney for the school, Christopher Harold, disputed the audit’s findings, saying it would be up to the state Education Department to determine whether any money was misused. He said the school has improved its oversight under new management.
“In summary, it is the school’s position that certain recommended disallowances are not justified,” Harold wrote. “More importantly, it should be noted that these deficiencies occurred under the prior administration.”