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Providence Plan fires finance director, alleges embezzlement

The Providence Plan has fired its finance chief amid allegations that he embezzled “hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a number of years,” the nonprofit public policy organization announced on Friday.

The organization said it filed a formal complaint with the state police on Friday against Charles Denno, who has served as the director of finance and administration since 2009.

“We are acting very quickly,” executive director Pat McGuigan said in an interview. He said the organization is “shocked” by the alleged embezzlement and that “we are determined to get this money” back.

“We want to get a good handle on the total amount before we say anything” about how much is believed to be missing, he said. “We are at the early stages of understanding it.”

The Providence Plan, founded 25 years ago and supported by an annual budget of $8 million, receives a variety of grants from state, local and federal governmental agencies as well as donations from local and national philanthropic organizations. It uses the money to run a variety of educational and job-training initiatives for high school dropouts and underprivileged young people in the state’s urban core, and has plans to open an alternative high school for Providence and Central Falls youths.

McGuigan said the organization’s leadership received what it deemed to be reliable information on Tuesday. The next day, “our attorneys interviewed Mr. Denno. Based on that interview, we terminated him right away. We took his keys and escorted him from the building.”

When asked if Denno had admitted to embezzling money, McGuigan said, “He did.”

When reached at his home in Rumford on Friday, Denno declined to comment.

The state police did not immediately comment.

“We have no evidence that anyone else was involved or had any knowledge of this activity,” McGuigan said.

According to his Linkedin profile, Denno has a master’s degree in business administration from Providence College. He was the chief financial officer for Home & Hospice Care of R.I. from 2006 to 2008, and owned CMG Enterprises, a custom-woodworking company in Pawtucket, from 2000 to 2012.

“We take this incredibly seriously,” said McGuigan. “We have begun to reach out to all of our funders and partners. We have a great relationship with them. They like the work we do. We have a track record of 25 years.”

Still, he said, “We know this is going to be a bump.”

In a statement, McGuigan said, “We have taken a number of actions to assure that we know what happened and that we are fully transparent with everyone who depends on us — our team and our clients. To begin, we have retained outside counsel and committed to retaining an independent forensic auditing firm.

“While this is obviously troubling news, we are committed to continuing to perform our mission and serve the community. We do a great deal of important work at our agency, and thousands of people are relying on us to continue in that role. Moving forward, we will address this matter fully and transparently while at the same time continuing to meet our obligations to the people and the community we are committed to serve.”

Courtesy : providencejournal.com



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