Agency director suspended amid ‘missing funds’


By D. Anthony Botkin - abotkin@civitasmedia.com



Central Ohio Mental Health Center again faces financial problems.

The center’s board of directors placed Executive Director Mark Travis on administrative leave last week. Travis allegedly diverted funds from employee’s 401(k) retirement accounts to cover operating expenses for the agency.

“We believe the current amount of missing funds is $40,000,” said Eric Coss, president of the board of directors. “This amount includes those account’s loss of gains on the investments.”

Travis had been the executive director of the center since 2008 when he replaced Thomas Sefcik, who was indicted for filing false tax returns. “This has been going on for 8 years,” Coss said.

Central Ohio Mental Health Center is a privately held 501(3)(c) non-profit charitable organization located at 250 South Henry Street in the City of Delaware. The center serves the mental health needs of patients in Delaware, Union and Morrow counties.

The missing funds were discovered by the U. S. Department of Labor while running a routine audit, according to Coss.

“I was personally notified last Monday (Aug. 15),” Coss said. “It was brought to the attention of the board Thursday during our regular board meeting.”

Coss said that Travis was using the employee’s 401(k) funds to pay the center’s bills to keep the lights on and the doors open. “All the evidence indicates that it went to the operation of the center.” he said. “Mark had the intent to keep the center running.”

”Out of 80-some odd employees only nine participate in the 401(k) retirement fund.”

Even though Travis had good intentions, Coss said he was “shocked and disappointed” to find out that he was diverting the funds. “He made a poor decision,” he said. “When pulling together the data we find it has been going on for at least a year.”

According to Coss, he doesn’t think it is up to the center or board of directors to press charges against Travis in the matter. “It’s up to the U. S. Department of Labor,” Coss said. “I don’t think it’s up to the center.”

Center officials are working to restore the missing funds to employee’s accounts along with any potential lost gains.“We took actions quickly,” Coss said. “We’re working with the Department of Labor as hard as we can to put that money back.”

Officials are aggressively looking at ways to make cuts to replace the money as quickly as possible said Coss. One way was going with a cheaper insurance by changing companies. “The amount of money in the general fund barely covers the cost (to run the center),” Coss said. “It’s hard to make money in this business.”

According to Coss, the center is still working to repay back taxes from 2008. “We’re still trying to get our bearings on the issue of the back taxes,” he said.

Efforts to reach Travis for comment were unsuccessful.

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By D. Anthony Botkin

abotkin@civitasmedia.com

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.

D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.