DSS fraud unit investigates former directors' potential fraud

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A day after the former director of Mecklenburg County's DSS appealed her sudden firing, the agency is now investigating concerns of fraud.

County Commissioner Bill James said he received information from an anonymous source that he says shows clients may be using the agency's transportation program to go to places like "fast food restaurants."

"You don't get to go wherever it is you want," he said. "There are restrictions because you're dealing with everybody's money."

The paper, which he said appears to be a screenshot from a computer with access to the DSS system, shows a text box dated August 23, 2012, with the time 9:30 a.m.

It says, "client asked if we could transport her under RPG to Wendy's on her way back from shopping so she would not have to make a meal when she got home."
RPG stands for Rural General Purpose Transportation, one of DSS's transportation programs.

The screen shot does not make clear the mode of transportation, but another sheet shows an excerpt of what appears to be a long list of taxi trips to grocery stores and other destinations.

"I'd kind of like to know how many trips to Wendy's, McDonald's or Burger King are going on," he said.

James brought his concerns to the county's audit review committee. County Commissioner George Dunlap, who is also on the committee, said, "The county has a responsibility to investigate the allegation.

However, based on the information that has been presented thus far, there is no evidence that suggests widespread fraud in DSS's taxicab program."

The Mecklenburg County DSS website states that its transportation program can pay for door-to-door service when a person can't take a bus.

Grocery shopping is covered in some cases but the website does not mention restaurants.

The investigation is just the latest concern at the agency.

Former director Mary Wilson was fired Sept. 4 and appealed Sept. 18th.

The county has not said why she was terminated.

No one answered the door at her home Wednesday afternoon.

Eyewitness News asked county officials if representatives from DSS would talk about the transportation program, how clients qualify, and the checks in place on where they take clients, but they did not have anyone available to comment on Wednesday.