Milwaukee County leaders calling on board of supervisors to cut ties with UNISON

MILWAUKEE -- Despite the fraud allegations, the Milwaukee County was still going to partner with UNISON on a month-by-month basis to run three senior centers in 2019. As a result of new information surfacing, Milwaukee County Board leaders want to sever ties completely.

In an email obtained by FOX6 News addressed to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, the executive director of the Milwaukee County Department of Aging, says multiple "significant deficiencies" were discovered in an audit of UNISON in 2017.

Among them, UNISON, which was then comprised of two organizations -- Interfaith Older Adults and SET Ministy -- may have misrepresented nearly $40,000 in costs in order to qualify for more funding.

Laurie Lambach

The audit reveals then CEO Laurene Lambach, purchased $11,000 worth of computers as pat of a federal grant. The equipment was ultimately never delivered but UNISON kept the money. The same discrepancy was outlined in a search warrant affidavit from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, which is currently investigating Lambach for fraud.

In an email, Holly Davis -- executive director of the Milwaukee County Department of Aging -- calls for supervisors to "not move forward with any UNISON contracts." Nothing that this material was presented to UNISON's finance committee at the end of June, and was supposed to be turned over to the county by August -- yet Davis didn't receive the audit until this past weekend.

Davis says the audit indicates "more people within that organization knew about the issues" and "chose to keep it from the department." Calling that, "the most troubling" part.

Last month, a spokesperson for UNISON said others were not aware of any criminal activity until Lambach was arrested during a fundraising meeting in November.

Davis says the department is now looking at new providers to contract with for 2019, placing a high priority on "minimizing gaps in service."

UNISON released the following statement:

"We are deeply disappointed the Milwaukee County Department of Aging (MCDA) is considering this action, and feel it is an unjust and hasty decision. Our internal investigation has yet to show any money has left the organization, and no charges have been filed against Laurie Lambach in regards to these allegations."

The chairman of UNISON also wrote a letter to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, imploring him to at least have a 90-day transition period between service providers.

He says without it, thousands of seniors are at risk of not having rides to appointments, healthy meals and companionship.

Abele's office said in a statement it approves of Davis' actions.

Supervisors are expected to take up the UNISON contract during a Milwaukee County Board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13.