Chicago’s LGBT-focused Howard Brown Health Center has agreed to pay the federal government $715,000, settling a claim that the clinic improperly used research grants.
From 2005 to 2010, the center used $1 million in federal grants designated for an AIDS research study to pay general operating expenses, the Chicago Tribune reports. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began investigating the clinic’s use of funds two years ago, and the center changed much of its board and staff as a result.
The center “will immediately send $53,924 to the Centers for Disease Control and $86,076 to Health Resources and Services Administration, and will repay a total of $575,000 to the National Institutes of Health over three years,” the Tribune reports. The total is less than the amount that was misspent, and the government could have demanded more than $3 million, reflecting interest and penalties, said Jamal Edwards, who became Howard Brown’s CEO in 2010.
“The fact they were willing to accept less than they were owed is a really strong statement that we have been open and transparent,” Edwards told the paper. He said the center’s income from client fees and private fund-raising efforts will enable it to make the repayments without difficulty.
The center, founded in 1974, is well known for its efforts in treating AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and it provides a variety of other services, primarily for LGBT clients.