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CONTACT 13: Nonprofit ordered to repay misspent tax dollars to Hardest Hit Fund

Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 00:29:03-04

A scathing federal audit found waste and abuse of tax dollars in Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund. But not nearly as much as first reported by the auditor.

A newly-released report shows just how much of our money was misspent and we're asking what's being done about it.

The agency that's supposed to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgage has been repeatedly identified as one of the most inefficient agencies in the federal relief program -- keeping as much money as it gives out and only helping a fraction of homeowners in need.

The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) originally said the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation (NAHAC) wasted $8.2 million tax dollars on things including perks for employees and a bonus for the boss. 

It took a year for the U.S. Treasury Department to review auditors' findings. 

Now, they say only a fraction of that money was used for what they call "unallowable administrative expenses."

NAHAC, a nonprofit, federally-funded agency, was asked to reimburse the Hardest Hit Fund just over $82,000 -- that's only one percent of the $8.2 million SIGTARP says was wasted.

Most of the improperly spent money was for legal fees associated with a Department of Labor investigation. 

But there was also $8,000 in personal car expenses for the CEO's Mercedes, $4,500 for his bonus and nearly $13,000 for employee parties, outings, lunches and gifts.

NAHAC recently paid the money back and today issued the following statement: "With this payment, we believe this investigation is closed and NAHAC can get back to tending to our mission to help Nevadans hardest hit by the downturn in the housing market."

There are more than $80 million left in Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund, and three years to get it all out to homeowners in need. 

The board and management at NAHAC during the time the money was misspent are all gone now. 

The Nevada Attorney General is still investigating whether any criminal acts were committed. 

And NAHAC's new board is still deciding whether it'll be cost effective to hold individuals accountable.