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Nonprofits: SLED inquiry focuses on CASA grant

The State Law Enforcement Division has launched an inquiry into how a local nonprofit group, Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, used grant funds awarded last year.

A preliminary inquiry, which determines if an investigation is warranted, was requested by the S.C. Department of Public Safety on May 25 after a routine site visit to make sure grant funds had been spent in compliance with terms, said Sherri Iacobelli, a spokesperson for the department.

JoAnne Patterson, who served as CASA director, is no longer with the group, Sissy Rutherford, who heads the nonprofit’s board of directors, confirmed last week, and CASA’s operations in Georgetown County have been temporarily closed.

Two other members of CASA staff whose positions were paid for with grant funding have been laid off.

CASA is fully cooperating with SLED, according to Rutherford.

“We’re not hiding anything here,” she said. “The board of directors, we take our responsibility very seriously. We’re looking into this to make sure no one has personally profited from any of this."

The grant that started the inquiry was a $32,000 Victims of Crime subgrant for the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs, Iacobelli said. It was awarded last July and authorized for the purchase of two mid-size vans to transport victims.

Rutherford promised that CASA will continue to offer services or redirect clients to other agencies, such as the Family Justice Center in Georgetown, when needed to ensure victims of domestic violence continue to receive help.

Read the full story in our June 7 print edition.

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