The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 15, 2014

Possible Habitat theft leaves mental health housing in limbo

ATHENS — A possible theft of money from Habitat for Humanity of Athens-Limestone County may leave some mental health patients in limbo.

Athens Police are investigating a possible theft of money from the local Habitat by a former employee, The News Courier reported Sunday.

Bill Giguere, development officer for the Mental Health Center for North Central Alabama, said Monday the problem leaves planned construction of a permanent housing facility for clients of the Mental Health Center in question though he hopes to find other funding sources.

Giguere said that in 2012, the Foundation for Mental Health, in partnership with the MHCNCA, approached the Athens-Limestone Habitat to build a permanent housing facility for clients of MHCNCA. Construction of this facility was set to begin later this year, he said.

“On April 30, 2014, the leadership of the Athens Limestone County Habitat for Humanity affiliate notified the Foundation for Mental Health that Habitat for Humanity had become aware of financial irregularities involving a former employee,” he said.

The Foundation urged the Habitat board and staff leaders to get an accounting firm and notify local law-enforcement to investigate the allegations, he said.

“It is our understanding that the leadership of Habitat did in fact engage a firm to conduct a thorough investigation of Habitat’s financial records and has been working with the

Athens Police Department for their investigation concerning the alleged financial

irregularities,” Giguere said. “The Foundation and the Mental Health Center are in discussions with additional community partners in order to complete the much needed housing facility in Athens.”

He said both the Foundation and MHCNCA remain “positive” that the Habitat board will “work diligently and in a transparent manner with investigators so that the financial irregularities will be resolved with a positive outcome.”

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