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Buffalo

The FBI and the state Attorney General's Office have conducted a flurry of interviews in recent weeks as they investigate Community Action Organization of Western New York, which spends millions of state and federal dollars fighting poverty. Investigators with the Attorney General's Office last week concluded two days of interviews in Buffalo with people who could offer…

Watchdog

A man named Allen Wright was surprised to receive a letter form the IRS demanding taxes on his income from the Community Action Organization. Wright was certain he had never worked for the Buffalo anti-poverty agency, especially in 2003, the year the IRS was targeting. He had been doing time in an Indiana prison. He showed the letter to a CAO staff member, who showed…

Buffalo

The head of the Community Action Organization of Western New York posted the latest annual financial report on his agency's website to prove "our finances are in order." The financial report told half the story. CEO L. Nathan Hare did not post the supplement. In it, accountants hired by the CAO say the anti-poverty agency wrongly held up employee contributions to the…

Watchdog

Children enrolled in Community Action Organization's after-school and summer programs are typically handed simple items for their meals: yogurt, cereal bars or granola bars. Then a staff member started ordering more substantial fare: whole chickens, bacon and vegetables, with onions and potatoes arriving in 50-pound bags. The change prompted an internal audit at the ant…

Buffalo

FBI agents inquiring about the Community Action Organization of Western New York are asking about its links with the Grassroots political group, according to three people whom agents have interviewed. While the heads of both the CAO and Grassroots say their entities are not connected, the three people interviewed by the FBI said agents are interested in any financial li…

Buffalo

Community Action Organization’s Head Start program in Erie County ranked among the lowest 10 percent of such programs across the country last year in classroom observations by federal officials. A government review last year also found that 11 percent of the agency’s teachers throughout Erie and Niagara counties did not have the required qualifications. The year befo…

Buffalo

A special accounting firm hired by concerned board members at the Community Action Organization was seeking specific records on the agency's use of federal dollars for Head Start programs when it halted work on its forensic audit. While the CAO's chief executive has publicly asserted that the auditor was never hired, a contract and emails obtained by The Buffalo News sh…

Buffalo

The FBI has interviewed two former board members of the Community Action Organization, with agents asking questions about the firing and reinstatement of CEO L. Nathan Hare, why Mayor Byron W. Brown tried to stop Hare's dismissal, and financial operations of the agency, according to two sources. In the past five weeks, FBI agents have spoken by phone or in person severa…

Buffalo

Community Action Organization of Western New York should "change course and embrace transparency" or face increased federal oversight, Rep. Brian Higgins said Tuesday, the day after the anti-poverty agency hired armed guards to bar the public from its board meeting in Buffalo. In a written statement, the Buffalo Democrat noted he has helped deliver tens of millions of d…

Buffalo

The Community Action Organization of Western New York, which spends millions of dollars a year in public money, invites the public to its meetings. Except when it doesn't. CAO stationed three armed security guards at its doors Monday to keep the public out. Four CAO directors who had been banished from the nonprofit's board – after trying to fire the agency's CEO …

Watchdog

A confrontation is expected to erupt Monday at the Community Action Organization, which spends millions in government money fighting poverty in Western New York. At least two former directors, who were pushed off the board after trying to fire the politically connected CEO, intend to demand reinstatement when the board meets again. “I’m going to sign in as a director…

Local News

Days after L. Nathan Hare was fired in October from his job as CEO of the Community Action Organization – only to never leave – he fired his staff liaison to the board of directors that wanted him gone. Some of the CAO directors surmised that Hare fired the liaison because she passed along too much information, but the employee did nothing wrong, former director Jennife…

Buffalo

L. Nathan Hare, the chief executive for one of the region's best-known human services agencies, was fired in October by board directors who felt he mishandled important financial matters. The directors then hired a forensic accountant to examine the books. But Mayor Byron W. Brown and one of his confidants came to the rescue. Hare was back the next business day as the h…

Buffalo

The developer working with the Community Action Organization to construct a new and enlarged Head Start building on Northampton Street is seeking tax breaks for the $9.42 million project. McGuire Development Co. has applied to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency for tax breaks to defray the cost of erecting a 38,500-square-foot building that will house the com…

Buffalo

The Buffalo Planning Board Monday approved the Community Action Organization's relocated plan for a new Head Start early-childhood facility with a medical clinic on part of the former Deaconess Hospital site. Plans for the $7 million project at 600 Northampton St. call for construction of a 37,657-square-foot, one-story building, including 34,000 square feet for the day…