Fresno County Cancels Genesis Contracts

June 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno County supervisors voted to terminate nearly $5 million worth of contracts with Genesis Family Services, a year after its founders were convicted of embezzling half a million dollars from the agency.Administrators, therapists, and clients from Genesis Family Services lined up to address the board of supervisors Tuesday morning. They asked for the chance to move forward, and apologized for what happened in the past. "We offer sincere regret for not taking more decisive action more quickly," said Board of Directors Chair Anna Remedios.

Monday the Genesis Board of directors announced the resignation of founder Carol Dela Torre and the termination of her sister's live in boyfriend, Ken Steitz. Dela Torre and Elaine Bernard were convicted last year of embezzlement and recently the board's spending practices have also come under question. A day later, the agency's employees, clients, and parents asked the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to consider the people who will be affected if the county severed ties with Genesis. "I would just really hate to see them go, because before them I had no hope. I had no hope in life in all," said 19 year old client Petra Garcia.

"I don't know what the other people did before, the leadership, but I know the services are there. I can't afford to disrupt his services," said parent Gloria Ponce Rodriguez.

While no one disputes the quality of services Genesis offers, supervisors unanimously voted to cancel the contracts. Supervisor Judy Case said the county's relationship with Genesis has already cost too much time and energy, "There have been too many questionable actions which have diverted our attention away from our core mission, which is serving the children," said Case.

The four contracts with the county will end June 30. County leaders say there are other agencies that can provide services to those in need.

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