In a Miami Herald article on July 17, 2014, Homestead “non-profit” owner accused of looting public funds, one Hilda Hall-Dennis operated The Business and Technology Development Corp, “virtually rent-free” out of a city-owned building, under the registered fictitious name of The Carrie P. Meek Center for Business.
Hall-Dennis is the owner of the corporation, which was formed on February 20, 2006 and administratively dissolved on September 27, 2013 for failure to file a 2013 Annual Report. According to the Herald, the organization “fraudulent obtained hundreds of thousands of in public grants,” almost none of which was used “to help entrepreneurs launch new businesses.” She did, however, manage to bilk money out of Homestead’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Miami-Dade County and, hitting a new low, Florida’s Division of Blind Services for hiring a blind receptionist and paying “her only a fraction of the money she was owed.” On top of double billing “the county and state for the same (phone) services,” Hall-Dennis’ corporation also “left a trail of unpaid bills owed to a bank, a payroll company and others.”
Hall-Dennis even managed to convince former U.S. Representative Carrie P. Meek to lend her name and help start up the business in 2011. Despite being tied to the Meek name, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle was apparently unable to find Hilda Hall-Dennis politically connected enough to warrant burying the investigation. As such, Rundle had Hall-Dennis arrested “for a series of felonies, including organized scheme to defraud and grand theft.”
Hilda Hall-Dennis was also the owner of another “non-profit” called Seniors Are First, Inc., which was formed on March 27, 2008 and which was also administratively dissolved on September 27, 2013. If she had no problem ripping off the blind, when it comes to stealing from senior citizens one can only imagine the possibilities.
Then again, if stealing from a city, the county and the blind weren’t heinous enough, Jacques A. Calixte, who was arrested yesterday “on charges of grand theft, aggravated white collar crime and communications fraud,” stole from breast cancer patients through his Biscayne Park “non-profit,” Haitian American Association against Cancer, Inc., which was formed on March 3, 1998 and is still active, according to sunbiz.org.
The Miami Herald reported on July 23, 2014, State: Haitian American awareness group founder bilked taxpayers out of “at least $287,000.00” of the “nearly $400,000.00” billed to the state. The Herald reported, “According to state investigators, Calixte provided phony bank statements, payroll checks and healthcare reports to Florida’s Department of Health, which had given the group hundreds of thousands of dollars between January 2011 and June 2013.”
The state isn’t the only entity that was fooled by this “non-profit” company. In 2005, the Miami Herald profiled Calixte for his “work at the association,” and Dr. Rudolph Moise, who ran for Congress against Frederica Wilson, helped found the organization with Calixte. That same year, “Bank of America awarded the group a $5,000 grant as part of its “Local Heroes” initiative.”
Calixte claimed that he formed his organization specifically to reach out “to the Haitian community, in its own language” after he “lost his mother to breast cancer in 1995 after she initially turned to Haitian folk remedies instead of doctors.” He was supposed to have provided cancer screenings for women, but the Herald reported that “a review of his finances showed Calixte spent as little as $16,000 on actual client screenings in 2011. In 2012 and 2013, there was no evidence of expenditures for clinical screenings or testing for Haitian American woman “as required by the contracts,” according to Florida Department of Financial Services.”
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle added her two cents by telling the Herald, “When mammograms and early cancer screenings are matters of life and death for low-income women, stealing the money intended to save their lives is a new low.”
Or, at least an even newer low than stealing from the blind.
Stealing absentee-ballots, however, is apparently fair game. Right, Kathy?
Both North Miami and North Miami Beach are inundated with requests from questionable “non-profits” for donations. Many of them succeed in bilking our cities’ taxpayers of at least tens of thousands of dollars each year with little or no oversight or accountability. I bet that an audit of the “donations” from the Community Redevelopment Agencies and the Law Enforcement Trust Fund accounts of both cities would yield some eye opening discoveries.
Since many of the same “non-profits” also received grants from Miami-Dade County, its quite probable that we’ve been ripped off for much, much more – possibly in amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Until recent years, when budgets have been slashed, running these “non-profits” were indeed profitable for anyone who came to City Hall for a handout.
I suspect that what happened in Homestead is just the tip of the iceberg. The arrests of Hilda Hall-Dennis and Jacques A. Calixte should send the message to anyone who fraudulently operates a “non-profit” venture for self-profit that the only place they’ll be getting a free lunch is behind bars.
By now, the fraudsters should be very, very nervous.
Considering the three “non-profit” organizations being operated out of North Miami Beach Councilcritter Frantz Pierre’s House of Non-Profits, located at 1733 NE 162 Street, for which two have already scored $14,000.00 in LETF money, and…
Considering the $5,000.00 Frantzie “donated” from the council’s discretionary fund to questionable “non-profits”…
…he should be shaking in his boots.
“Spreading the Wealth”