MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A Florida health center says it fired its top executives over allegations that the center's chief executive officer misappropriated nearly $7 million.
Members of Miami Beach Community Health Center's board fired the center's longtime chief executive officer, Kathryn Abbate, after an audit found Abbate allegedly stole nearly $7 million from the center over four years for her personal use, The Miami Herald reported.
Chief Compliance Officer Diego Martinez also was fired over the discovery and Human Resources Director Angie Aguila and Chief Financial Officer Stanley DeHart both resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Board members alleged that DeHart was aware of the embezzlement and did nothing to stop it, however DeHart has denied the accusations.
"The external auditors had to have known about this," DeHart said, "because I laid it out to them in plain view. I did not hide anything."
Aguila and Martinez have both been accused of not having a proper system in place to detect the loss of funds.
Mark Rabinowitz, the center's chief medical officer, said auditors found that, among other things, Abbate wrote herself checks for up to $5,000 for what she called "community development," but were actually for her personal use.
Employees of the center were alerted to the firings and resignations in an e-mail Friday from Rabinowitz.
He said Abbate was terminated "based on substantial and overwhelming evidence that Ms. Abbate abused her position and broke a sacred trust by misappropriating MBCHC funds over the past four years."
"It is profoundly shocking and disappointing that something like this could occur," Rabinowitz wrote. "People in this community trust us to have their best interests at heart."
"Clearly, major lapses occurred in a system of checks and balances designed to prevent such inappropriate action," Rabinowitz said.