MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A local nonprofit WREG looked at in May has now lost its state funding.
DeafConnect of the Mid-South was supposed to be supporting people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but an audit accused the organization of having issues with stolen money, forged checks and fake financial documents.
Those accusations were enough for the State of Tennessee to end its contract with the agency that impacted the lives of hundreds of people.
“After thoroughly reviewing the deficiencies detailed in a department initiated audit, the Tennessee Department of Human Services chose not to renew the contract with DeafConnect,” a statement from the state said.
hat audit accused DeafConnect’s finance director of forging bad checks totaling nearly $25,000 and poor record-keeping of the funds, including a $150,000 state grant.
Part of that money was to be used to provide free interpreting services to people like Janie Zweig.
WREG spoke to Zweig in May when she sent a petition to the state asking them to find another agency to better meet her needs.
“We’re hoping that this petition is going to help in Nashville that we’re going to send to the deaf council,” she said in May. “We can show them that services are lacking, and things are not being done by the grant a nonprofit is supposed to have.”
DeafConnect representatives told WREG Tuesday that they’ve cleaned house and will now work to restore their relationship with the community and State.
“What we are doing right now is to solidify the agency, get it steady, moving forward, plan for the future,” a spokesperson said. “We are searching for a CEO and moving on.”
While that happens, the State will look for another provider to be the voice for this community in need.
The State said interpreting services are still available in the area through various independent contractors and providers.