Urban League lawsuit dismissed

A lawsuit brought by the Buffalo Urban League, which took the unusual step in April of suing Erie County after a scathing audit by the county comptroller, has been dismissed.

The audit, which was completed last December, found that the Urban League had over-billed the county by an estimated $40,000, as well as failing to properly train its caseworkers.

“This is a clear and decisive victory,” said Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw. “It’s a victory for the independence of the office of the Erie County Comptroller and a victory for taxpayers.”

The Urban League had been asking for the audit to be removed from the county Legislature’s records and taken off the comptroller’s website. Urban League President Brenda McDuffie said when the suit was filed in April that the comptroller’s report was “filled with factual and procedural errors” and had harmed the agency’s reputation.

Supreme Court Judge Tracey Bannister disagreed with that view, ruling that the audit had not caused any “concrete injury” to the Urban League. The judge did not, however, rule whether the audit was unfair or inaccurate, as the Urban League had claimed.

As Investigative Post originally reported, eight Urban League social workers wrote to the comptroller in November 2014, expressing concern that their employer had falsified bills on its million-dollar county contract to provide services for troubled families.

An investigation by the comptroller’s office bore out their claims, finding that the Urban League had, in some cases, claimed employees had worked hundreds of hours in a single day.

The audit also found the Urban League tried to stonewall investigators and retaliated against the whistleblowers who brought the problems to the comptroller’s attention.

County legislators reviewed the audit at a heated public hearing in January, but have not taken any further action on its findings.