I-Team: Homeland Security grant money misused

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio- The FOX 8 I-Team has found nearly $300,000 of your money misused, and it involves the same department in Cuyahoga County government caught up in a corruption investigation.

The county is now paying back Homeland Security grant money.

The county’s chief technology officer says this has nothing to do with the corruption investigation. All of this came to light after the I-Team started asking questions about the money.

We filed a request last month asking about grant money for a new fingerprint system.

Weeks later, the county sent a letter to the state saying it would “reimburse $293,758.36.”

The county wrote the “Grant was not being utilized for the intended purpose” and “utilized for another function within the County.”

We went to County IT Director Michael Young to ask, how did this happen?

Young told us there’s no secret about the equipment. He blames delays with the project.

Young said, “We purchased the equipment. That project got delayed. The equipment is sitting dormant in our data center in Columbus.”

So we pressed him, asking, shouldn’t somebody have spoken up earlier recognizing the county might lose the money?

Young said simply, “Again we’re working based on what the project timelines are.” And he referred us to other county officials behind the fingerprint system project.

Taxpayers, like you, might still want a better explanation of how such big grant money for computer equipment got so mishandled. Well, county leaders are asking, too. Now doing an internal review with a hard look at how all that money got lost.

We also checked with the state to find out if the county could be punished.

Jay Carey, spokesman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, said, ” We’re working with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) as it is a FEMA grant that is worked through the State of Ohio. We’re working with them to determine the next step.”

A corruption investigation into Cuyahoga County government has put a spotlight on suspected wrongdoing in the IT Department. But again, Michael Young says this has nothing to do with that. And, we found the same answer when we checked with other people close to the investigation.

Nonetheless, the county, in effect, is paying for equipment it could have had for free.

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