United Way of Grayson County investigates accusations made by fo - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

United Way of Grayson County investigates accusations made by former employees

SHERMAN -- The president and CEO of the United Way of Grayson County is responding to accusations being made by former employees.

Some of the claims have resulted in changes in the way the organization does business.

The United Way receives donations then disperses the money to 19 agencies in the area. The money is then given to people who need it.

But now, the organization's staff has been left short-handed. Three out of the five employees who worked there have either resigned or been fired within the past ten months.

The three former employees received a letter from UWGC in late June after bringing concerns to the UWGC board of directors.

Velma Starks, who says she worked there for the past 13 years, was one of them.

"This is the first time in my entire work history that I have been terminated," she said.

The letter is signed by five United Way board members.

It lists five areas of concern brought to their attention by the former employees and the outcome of the board's investigation into them.

"They say they investigated and I felt all they did was just kind of sweep things under the rug," Starks said.

The first claim involves a dispute over the estate and will of a woman who used to live at a Denison home. The letter states the board audited the estate's account and "no irregularities were found."

The second bullet-pointed item alleges the organizations president and CEO, David Cortinas, was involved in improper relationships.
The letter states the board found no evidence and "no one who wanted to confirm."

"The accusation has been made and my board pulled me into a board meeting and asked me, point blank, 'Are you having an affair with my co-worker?'" Cortinas explained. "The answer is no. Period."

The third item on the list deals with personnel policies. Starks -- whose title was finance administrator --  says she was told to change dates allowing another employee to get paid for vacation time when she said they shouldn't have.

The letter states "the incident related to employee leave was corrected."

"It has really tore my up because I was asked to do something that was wrong," Starks explained.

"I point blank made a mistake," Cortinas said.

The fourth accusation involves donated items. The board said it "was not able to prove any wrong-doing but UWGC staff has been instructed to stop receiving donations."

"So as of right now, if anyone walks in this door, if anyone calls, our role is to 2-1-1," Cortinas said. "If someone calls me for help, I've generally got a helping attitude but because of this I no longer can."

The final claim relates to United Way workers "responding to 2-1-1 calls by visiting a residence or motel", something staff have also been directed to stop doing.

The letter concludes by thanking the former employees and for doing what they felt was in the best interest of the agencies.

It also says it hopes the investigation ends rumors that may cause harm to the campaign.

"The lesson that I learned in this whole process is that I have to stick to my mission. I have to stick to my cause," Cortinas said.

Cortinas says his mission is also to do what's best for the United Way and its agencies.

While staff have been instructed to stop receiving donated items, UWGC does still accept monetary donations.

Cortinas says the United Way of Grayson County has collected about a million dollars annually for the past three years.