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May 27, 2015

Audit Finds La. Charity Spent Grant Funds on Cruises and Games

A Louisiana legislative audit found that a largely government-funded New Orleans nonprofit that provided housing for people with disabilities and medical issues spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel, entertainment, and other inappropriate or inadequately documented expenses, The Times-Picayune reports.

Top officials at Alternatives Living used more than $130,000 in charity funds for tickets to New Orleans Saints football and New Orleans Pelicans basketball games, theatrical and concert events, Caribbean cruises, and a leased Mercedes-Benz from 2010 through 2013, according to the audit report. Auditors also identified nearly $250,000 in expenses for which there was little or no documentation.

During the audit period, 75 percent of Alternatives Living's revenue came from a state supportive-housing program. In a written response to the report, CEO Melanie Duplechain said most of the improper charges were innocent mistakes but acknowledged that "our past business practices failed to live up to our service standard" and said the group is taking steps "to strengthen oversight and accountability."