Inland Regional Center located on Waterman Avenue in San Bernardino.

BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.com

Published: 21 October 2011 08:27 PM

SACRAMENTO — The nonprofit agency that serves developmentally disabled residents in Inland Southern California improperly spent almost $10 million and must repay the state, according to a highly critical audit released Friday that found continued widespread problems at the San Bernardino-based Inland Regional Center.

The audit also concluded that Southwestern Transportation Management Services, a Corona firm, improperly received a contract worth nearly $1 million and must pay back the regional center, which will send the money on to the state.

The Department of Developmental Services report, months in the works, is the latest and hardest hitting assessment of the operations at Inland Regional Center, the largest of 21 nonprofit agencies that contract with the state to arrange therapy, transportation, housing and other services for developmentally disabled people.

A Bureau of State audits report released last September criticized the center’s contracting practices and described what auditors said was a culture of employee intimidation. In January, the state put the center on probation, a status that remains unchanged.

“While significant progress has been made with IRC under the new leadership, the IRC and Southwestern Transportation Management Services audit finding and the outstanding probationary issues are very concerning to the department,” Department of Developmental Services Director Terri Delgadillo said in a statement Friday.

State Sen. Bill Emmerson, who has questioned the center’s financial activities, blamed the audit’s findings on past managers. He praised the center’s current director, Carol Fitzgibbons, who arrived in mid-2010.

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