The governing board of Four-County Community Services fired its director Tuesday night after a state audit accused him of mismanaging state and federal money.
The board terminated Director Richard Greene after a two-and half hour meeting — much of it behind closed doors.
Greene came under scrutiny after the state Department of Health and Human Services released a 22-page audit that concluded that the state Auditor needed to conduct its own investigation of the nonprofit.
“With all the things going on, something had to be done,” board member Hubert Sealey said after the meeting. “There were so many allegations and some of them were substantiated. Anytime you are in the business of helping people, you have to be accountable.”
Sealey, who also serves as a Robeson County commissioner, was among 25 board members at Tuesday night’s meeting at the Red Springs Head Start center.
Board Chairman Jimmy Cummings did not comment on the firing, but said the decision to sack the longtime director was not unanimous. The audit also accuses Cummings of mismanagement.
Among the audit’s findings, Greene is accused of misusing his agency vehicle for personal trips and concealing a nine-year marriage to Annie Rothwell, Four-County’s fiscal manager, in violation of the agency’s nepotism policy.
The audit also found that the agency misspent nearly $75,000 during fiscal 2012 and several more thousands of dollars that appear to have been misspent since fiscal 2009. Fifteen of 18 allegations were substantiated in the audit.
One allegation stated that Greene does not use a formal bidding process to select service vendors and that the board does not approve the contracts.
Greene told auditors that the board delegated that responsibility to him and that there is no written policy on how contracts are acquired.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Greene declined to comment to reporters and left before the board announced its decision. He did meet privately with the board.
The board is expected to meet again on March 19 in Elizabethtown to continue discussing the audit and its recommendations.
Four-County receives $21 million annually through state and federal grants to administer 16 Head Start programs as well as weatherization assistance and housing assistance funds to clients in Scotland, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Hoke, Pender, and Robeson counties.