A Howard Beach nonprofit agency finds itself in the middle of an investigation over apparent financial improprieties.
QNS reported on Monday, citing sources speaking on the condition of anonymity, that law enforcement agents raided on Oct. 12 the NYFAC Foundation (New York Families for Autistic Children), located at 164-14 Cross Bay Blvd. They also reportedly searched the home of its founder and CEO, Andrew Baumann.
However, the FBI has neither confirmed nor denied that this action took place. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York also declined to confirm or deny that an investigation is underway. Representatives of NYFAC also vehemently denied that any law enforcement operation occurred.
“The board of directors had their concerns and it is their duty to due compliance,” said Jerry Solomon, the lawyer hired by NYFAC’s board of directors to represent them. “We have also brought in an accounting firm to assist us in the investigation – it is an internal investigation that is being done by the board.”
Solomon would not comment about whom the investigation was into or what was being investigated.
“We don’t know whether [the investigation] is going to be substantiated or not,” said Solomon. “We are going to do a professional investigation and we’ve gone in with an open mind and we are going to evaluate what we find and try to make a quick determination.”
The board of directors at NYFAC has hired Steven Freeman, who has experience working at other nonprofits for the disabled, as an interim director and CEO, according to Solomon.
“We want to make sure that there is a continuity of services to their vulnerable clients that they serve,” said Solomon. “We want to make sure that goes on uninterrupted and that their records are preserved and that their privacy is preserved.”
Solomon said that the proper agencies that need to know about the investigation have been informed, but there is not a law enforcement investigation going at NYFAC.
Solomon estimates that the investigation could go on for another week.
“We want it to be done quickly to protect everybody’s interests,” said Solomon.
Joe Mure, an attorney for Baumann, said that there was no raid at the former CEO’s home and that investigators were simply doing an audit at the facility.
“They are doing an audit at the facility to check to see what is going on,” said Mure. “They are looking over his paperwork.”
Mure said that Baumann has not been charged with money laundering or any other crime by any agency.
When asked as to why was Bauman specifically was investigated, Mure said, “I don’t know.”
According to Mure, Bauman is cooperating fully with the agency that is conducting the agency.
“He has been asked to stay away,” said Mure. “He is doing everything he is to do.”
The Queens Chronicle reported on Monday that private investigators were looking into NYFAC’s operations as part of an internal probe.
NYFAC was founded in 1998 and supports individuals diagnosed with the disorder on the autism spectrum with educational, recreational and socialization programs, according to NYFAC’s website. The organization was said to have 150 employees providing services through over 20 different programs; in 2013, more than 30,000 families visited its offices, according to the website.
This story was updated on Oct. 16 at 10:20 a.m.