State report slams performance of social services administrators; college may owe state, feds

A Sonoma State University social services program accumulated more than $2 million worth of questionable expenses, including $280,000 in payments to an ex-employee, according to a state audit report.

University officials said Monday that the improper expenditures could reach $3.6 million after further review of the California Institute on Human Services.

The state audit is sharply critical of the two former university administrators who ran the program, Tony Apolloni and George Triest.

The audit cites questionable expenses, violations of contract policies, potential conflicts-of-interest and, in the case of the ex-employee, a misappropriation of funds that lasted for five years.

The institute, which is being phased out by the university, provides training and educational services for social service agencies, focusing on family violence, early childhood education and literacy.

It was founded in 1979 and operated last year on $22 million in state and federal grants.

The state audit was initiated earlier this year after SSU officials reported inappropriate expenditures by the institute. University police last spring opened a criminal investigation, which remains ongoing.

In outlining their findings, the auditors didn't identify the former SSU employee who received the alleged payments.

They said the employee was a since-retired woman who at the time worked at a care facility for the developmentally disabled and was paid with grant funds from the institute. Auditors said Apolloni owned the property that housed the care facility and one of his relatives lived there.

Additionally, auditors found a $25,000 payment in 2000 for an institute project at the same care facility, citing the expenditure as a potential conflict-of-interest for Apolloni.

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