Florida HIV/AIDS agency closes as founder and grant money go missing
The Wansiki Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was forced to close this week after Broward County officials cut off a $500,000 grant when the agency's founder and some of its funds turned up missing, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports. About 700 HIV-positive clients were left without medical care, casework services, and other assistance when the agency shut down. Agency records show that the organization had numerous poor county performance reviews and owed more than $160,000 in unpaid bills at the end of 2002. Foundation founder Marie Wansiki has not been seen by agency staff for more than two weeks, and $12,000 in grant money to the organization cannot be accounted for, said county health officials and foundation employees.
AIDS Project Florida, also based in Fort Lauderdale, has agreed to take on all former Wansiki clients and has begun the process of seeking to obtain the rescinded $500,000 grant. Broward County officials are continuing to investigate Wansiki's disappearance and the missing foundation money.