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ComLinks blasted in state audit; DA investigation urged

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A state audit is slamming the management of one of the North Country's largest non-profit social service agencies. A Comptroller's report released yesterday claims that ComLinks, headquartered in Malone, has suffered for years from mismanagement and nepotism.

The audit also alleges that former ComLinks CEO Nancy Reich diverted nearly $100,000 in funds for her private use.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief
State comptroller Tom DiNapoli claims that for years Nancy Reich billed the nonprofit for personal perks and a "lavish lifestyle" that included Swedish massages, purchase of gifts and flowers, and expensive travel. The audit also blasted the ComLinks organization's financial oversight for allowing rich to claim expenses without documentation. ComLinks is also criticized for buying a car from a local dealer who sits on the organization's board of directors and for general mismanagement.

"What happened at ComLinks was awful on so many levels," wrote DiNapoli in a statement in which he called for sweeping reforms. "These things happened because people were asleep at the switch," he wrote, "or because people let the executive director do whatever she wanted with a wink and a nod." In a written response to the report ComLinks board president Marc Lashomb praised Reich's vision and leadership, which he said "contributed much to the growth and development of the agency." But he also acknowledged what he called reich's "questionable style of management." This comptrollers report as been sent to Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, who is expected to investigate. 

Reich was dismissed from ComLinks last year and couldn't be reached in time for this report. Reached on Wednesday, ComLinks's executive director Brian Cassini said he wasn't yet prepared to respond to the report in an interview.

ComLinks provides a wide range of social service programs from affordable housing to food and heating assistance. In recent years the organization has been rocked repeatedly by scandals.

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