The struggling Belafonte TACOLCY Center has parted ways with its embattled chief executive officer, The Miami Herald has learned.
It’s not yet clear when or under what circumstances Taj Brown left the decades-old non-profit, based in one of Miami’s poorest communities. But the publicly funded agency has been the subject of a probe by the Miami-Dade Office of the Inspector General, and Brown had dealt with allegations he abused agency funds and allowed the center to fall into a financial crisis.
Horace Roberts, the center’s interim CEO, told a reporter who called looking for Brown late Friday that the executive and the center had parted ways.
“Taj Brown is no longer here,” Roberts said.
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Roberts declined to say anything else about Brown, but said the center continued to function normally after his departure. Three board members also declined to talk about Brown, saying a statement with more information would be coming on Monday.
“There are some exciting things that are going to be happening at TACOLCY and I’m looking forward to them,” said Chairman Joshua Jones.
Attempts to reach Brown on Friday were unsuccessful.
Last month, The Herald reported that TACOLCY, an acronym for The Advisory Committee of Liberty City Youth, was in turmoil. The agency was created in 1966 to provide educational and recreational resources to families in the neighborhood with a specific focus on young people. It relies on public funding, grants and fundraisers to finance its operations.
Former employees have said the center has thousands of unpaid bills, can’t pay employees and can barely afford basic supplies like toilet paper. In an email to the board of directors, recently fired chief operating officer Hesterline Hall said a $15,000 grant from Comcast to launch a seniors literacy program had been used for payroll.
Board minutes obtained by The Herald from last August also showed the board had launched its own probe into whether Brown had improperly racked up $8,000 in bills to the agency on a rental car and expenses. The board voted 3-2 to retain Brown at the time, saying they’d found no wrongdoing.
Now Brown is out.
State records show he has been with TACOLCY since at least 2013, and his biography says he has “over 20 years in child advocacy.” But Akua Scott, a member of the Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of TACOLCY, said Brown never understood the Liberty City community.
“Taj Brown was really destroying that agency with his attitude and his not knowing the community, not knowing the importance and the history” of TACOLCY, she said. “The people of Liberty City and those that utilize that center are actually in a better place because of the board’s decision.”