Contact: Teri Stoddard

$1.2 Million in Anti-Violence Funds Embezzled, Missing, or Misused: Fraud is Widespread, SAVE Charges

Washington, DC/April 4, 2012 – Following release of three reports by the Department of Justice, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) is charging that many grants made under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are plagued by fraud and waste. Such malfeasance shortchanges the vulnerable victims of partner abuse.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued three reports in March highlighting the problem:

1. A March 28 press release announced the sentencing of Julie and Andrea Matau for embezzlement of funds from a VAWA grant. From 2005 to 2007, the mother and daughter pair stole $159,763 in federal money from their American Samoa legal services corporation, which had received $1.2 million in VAWA-related grants.

2. A DOJ audit of the Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Planning Commission reported that $847,553 in funds awarded by the Office of Violence Against Women were found to be questionable. Of this amount, $372,434 of expenditures had no records to document how the money had been spent.

3. An audit of VAWA grants to the Coeur d’Alene Native American tribe’s domestic violence program revealed $240,431 had been improperly spent, including $171,000 in salary for an unapproved position.

Each year VAWA awards $500 million in grants to abuse-reduction organizations, but fiscal management practices have been found to be sub-standard. A SAVE report documents long-standing problems of fraud and abuse.

The SAVE report points out that the Office of Violence Against Women has not conducted comprehensive self-evaluations, in disregard of directives from the Government Accountability Office and Office of Management and Budget.

Says SAVE spokesman Philip W. Cook: “Victims of domestic violence are ill-served by fraud and waste, especially on such a broad scale. Congress must assure the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act contains strong accountability measures that deny funding to rogue grantees that misuse taxpayer money.”

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: