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Nassau audit finds financial irregularities at Bethany House

Nassau audit finds financial irregularities at Bethany House

Bethany House, a Baldwin-based nonprofit that helps homeless and abused women, made questionable and excessive payments to staff, including its founder, and repeatedly violated state nepotism laws, according to a new audit by the Nassau Comptroller’s Office.

The 42-page report found a pattern of financial irregularities and poor oversight by Bethany House, which runs homes for women and children in Roosevelt, Baldwin and Bellmore.

Sister Aimee Koonmen, who founded Bethany House in 1978 along with two other Dominican Sisters of Amityville, was paid more than $160,000 in stipends without proper documentation and made $35,000 in payments to Bethany House board members, staffers and relatives, also without explanation, auditors found.

When Kathleen Ryan, hired as the nonprofit’s executive director, raised concerns about the spending practices, she was terminated, the audit said, with the nonprofit arguing she lacked an understanding of Bethany House’s “mission and core values.”

“Our investigations team discovered a series of troubling findings, ranging from lack of oversight to nepotism to questionable cash payments and co-mingling with personal funds,” said Nassau Comptroller Jack Schnirman.

In its audit response, Bethany House’s new leadership said it reformed its financial practices, implementing a biometric timekeeping system to validate hours, reducing or eliminating stipends and ceasing cash payouts.

“We take the issues raised in the Office of the Nassau County Comptroller’s Limited Review for the years covering 2017-2018 very seriously,” said Katherine Heaviside, a Bethany House spokeswoman. “We have worked cooperatively with the comptroller’s staff and have fully resolved each of the audit recommendations.”

Sister Aimee Koonmen did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“The Sisters of Saint Dominic of Amityville and the Board of

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