Investigation into Virginia Child Services Center Reveals Fraud, Failed Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 6/16/2015

The Pendleton Child Services Center, a shuttered business based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, may face criminal charges following an investigation that revealed fraud, failed background checks, and other problems. Originally, the Pendleton Child Services Center drew the eye of 10 On Your Side, a local TV news outlet. The On Your Side investigation, which began almost half a year ago, revealed fraud and other corruption going on in the taxpayer-funded educational center, which was founded to support "struggling children and their families." On Your Side found enough damning information to inspire a more official investigation, bya Virginia Beach city auditor. Now Pendleton Child Services Center is in hot water over a number of illegal practices.

The city audit has revealed a mess of illegal employment practices. For one thing, the superintendent of the Child Services Center hired her nephew of a position, despite the fact that he had no license or certification making him fit to teach. Another employee at Pendleton, a "coordinator," showed similar nepotism in hiring unqualified employees because they were related to him. Per the city audit, the coordinator extended employment opportunities to "his son, daughter, brother, and nephew." It's unclear which of those individuals, if any, were qualified to work with children in an educational environment. The nepotism runs even deeper, too. The audit indicated that Pendleton directors had knowingly awarded work contracts to companies and firms owned by existing employees of the center.

Perhaps even worse, the Pendleton Child Services Center blatantly hired two people who had failed their required pre-employment FBI background checks. According to the report from the Virginia Beach city auditor, one of the background checks said that the application "DOES NOT MEET the criteria to have responsibility of safety and well-being of children." Precisely what offense or past misdeed disqualified the applicant in question from consideration for employment is not clear, but Pendleton hired the person anyway.

Beyond questionable hiring policies, the Virginia Beach city audit also gave reason to suspect the Pendleton Child Services Center of fraud and embezzlement. For instance, $21,000 worth of supposed charitable donations are currently unaccounted for, while one Pendleton-run program invoiced the government for a quarter of a million dollars in gas mileage reimbursements. The center has no records or evidence to support either the charity donations or the mileage claims. The information from the city audit has been passed along to the Virginia Beach Police Department.


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