Employees at Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center “improperly” paid an outside vendor to pursue grants, were loose with cash, and allowed some tenants to use the public facility without lease agreements, according to the city’s independent auditor general.
In a review conducted at the behest of public corruption investigators, auditor general Ted Guba’s staff also found that former center director Sandy Dorsainvil was “affiliated with” a cultural center vendor during her time running the facility. But auditors found no proof that Dorsainvil “economically benefited from the vendor.”
Guba’s report, published Tuesday, clarifies the direction of a state attorney’s office investigation into the center. It also helps explain City Manager Daniel Alfonso’s recent decision to fire Dorsainvil, whose termination caused an uproar in Little Haiti and nearly cost Alfonso his own job. But Dorsainvil’s attorney says the report is most relevant for a different reason.
“The report is profoundly significant because it reveals the total absence of wrongdoing on the part of Sandy,” attorney Charles Mays said Tuesday. “I don’t see anything there suggesting any criminal conduct or any violation of any administrative rules of the city of Miami that would warrant termination.”
These allegations involved questionable payments and inappropriate employee affiliations with certain City vendors that were rendering services at the facility
Report by Independent Auditor General Ted Guba
Guba declined to comment. His staff didn’t interview anyone at the center, and the report is only a part of a larger investigation.
Guba’s office began quietly reviewing documents at the Little Haiti Cultural Center after officials with the city’s Department of Real Estate Asset Management reported concerns of “mismanagement” and “inappropriate employee affiliations” to the state attorney’s office. They went through 19 months of financial records, including documents related to vendors.
Auditors reported that the same center employee who collected payments was also depositing the money, a no-no for reasons of verifying cash collection amounts. In another instance, they said they found a $3,000 invoice for grants applications despite a city policy that all grants must be sought through Miami’s Office of Grants Administration.
And while the report doesn’t mention Dorsainvil by name, it refers to the fact that she was listed in state records as a director of the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance until a few days after she was fired. The Alliance has previously provided services to the center, and the relationship raised questions about whether Dorsainvil was steering business to her own nonprofit.
The report is profoundly significant because it reveals the total absence of wrongdoing on the part of Sandy
Charles Mays, attorney for Sandy Dorsainvil
But invoices obtained by the Miami Herald show that what little business the center did with the Arts Alliance — where Dorsainvil worked before she was hired to run the center — was conducted early on in Dorsainvil’s tenure. Edouard Duval Carrie, founder of the organization, said in a recent interview that Dorsainvil cut ties with the Arts Alliance when she was hired to run the city’s center, and her continued listing as a director was simply an oversight.
“That was something that should have been done not by Sandy but by that nonprofit,” said Mays, who is helping Dorsainvil fight to win back her job. “That lady is as honest as the day is long.”