The Chicago Department of Public Health has severed its ties with Minority Outreach Intervention Project (MOIP) upon the recommendation of the City of Chicago Inspector General's Office.
The Inspector's recently completed investigation did in fact verify charges of fraud which first surfaced last fall.
The local HIV/AIDS organization, now located at 1130 S. Wabash, Suite #404, has been active primarily on the city's South and Southwest sides and has targeted African-American and Latino men who have sex with men. But with this decision, MOIP's future is certainly in jeopardy—in 2001 MOIP had a contract for more than $133,000 in funds from CDPH to provide a range of HIV/AIDS-related services.
A report and supporting materials recently delivered to CDPH officials from the Inspector General's Office concluded that MOIP, headed by Executive Director Brandon Armani, had submitted fraudulent documentation to CDPH by providing participant sign-in sheets claiming that it had administered three group HIV/AIDS prevention sessions, when in fact it had not. CDPH officials were alerted to the fraud by a former MOIP employee, triggering an initial CDPH examination and subsequent investigation by the Inspector General.
'We will no longer contract with MOIP based on the recommendation of the Inspector General,' said Fikirte Wagah, director of planing and evaluation/ STD/ AIDS division. 'This a total severance of all HIV contracts. Our concern now is for the target population that MOIP served—we want to make sure they [African Americans and Latino men] get high level care and prevention services.'
Wagah went on to say that under the direction of Christopher Brown, assistant commissioner, CDPH is looking for qualified agencies to which they can distribute those funds that MOIP would have received for 2003.
'We are just starting to receive the federal dollars and we anticipate being able to continue services without interruption,' she said.
In any given year CDPH funds about 70 community-based agencies to provide services in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And while the community will continue to voice its views on this very controversial decision, Wagah added that this was not the first time such action had been taken against a local agency.
When asked about the future of MOIP, Armani said, 'the board of directors will be meeting over the next few days to map out a future plan for the agency in light of the decision made by the city.' Armani anticipates an announcement from the board soon.
[In late-breaking news, MOIP ED Brandon Armani has resigned effective Feb. 11. Board President Kerwin Watkins called the departure 'amicable.' He said the board would meet with city officials and others to evaluate MOIP's options for providing HIV/AIDS services.]
BRAZIL: LAWYER INVESTIGATING POLICE RESPONSE TO TRANS MURDER IS KILLED
In late December 2002, a transvestite known as Ze Galinha was shot to dead by a Military Police in Amazonas, Brazil, with the surname of Edras, in front of several witnesses on the street, alleges the International gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
The police refused to hear the testimony of witnesses and arrest the alleged murderer. The local gay organization AAGLT (Amazonian Association of Gays, Lesbians and Transvestites) launched a media campaign, staged street demonstrations, and obtained support from the local legislature to investigate the murder.
Marcelo Cruz, a lawyer working for a local MP, took the case, and a judge ordered preventive arrest of policemen Edras. Afterwards, both Mr. Cruz and AAGLT's President Adamor Guedes were faced repeated harassment and threats. On Jan. 27, Marcelo Cruz was found murdered in his apartment. Threats against Adamor Guedes' life continued. AAGLT has demanded protection for its President's life; authorities have not replied.
IGLHRC supports AAGLT in asking for messages of protest to be sent to various authorities, with copies to AAGLT at:
For details, contact IGLHRC, 1375 Sutter St., Suite 222, San Francisco, CA 94109, (415) 255-8680; firstname.lastname@example.org