Audit finds more violations at DHS

ST. PAUL (AP) — An internal audit has found several violations of laws to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in a Department of Human Services division responsible for a string of improper payments, the department announced Tuesday.

The audit report said the behavioral health division — which was responsible for $29 million in overpayments to two American Indian bands and $70 million in improper payments to chemical dependency providers — skirted state laws on contracting and conflict of interest.

None of the violations involved multimillion dollar payment errors, the Star Tribune reported, but most pointed to failures to follow rules designed to prevent bigger problems. The audit was conducted in response to several internal complaints. The agency’s auditors substantiated five of the nine alleged violations.

“We want people to see that we are listening and we are taking action,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead told the newspaper. “I am grateful to anyone who came forward to report things.”

3 boys away when father killed in fire

ST. PAUL (AP) — Three young sons who lived with their father in a St. Paul apartment were spending the night elsewhere when a fire broke out and killed him.

Justin Slanina, 29, died last weekend while his boys, ages 6, 7 and 8, were staying with their mother.

The victim’s uncle, Bob Slanina and his fiancee, Michelle Berg, broke the news to the boys.

“We told them there was an accident at their house, that there was a fire and the paramedics did everything they could to try to save their daddy, and now he’s in heaven with great-grandma Ginny and grandma Wendy,” Berg said of Justin’s mother and grandmother. “They all just started to cry and cry. It was the most heartbreaking thing to watch.”

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports neighbors told firefighters when they arrived at the apartment early Saturday that the three boys could be in the apartment with their dad. Firefighters found Slanina in their initial search, but no one else in secondary searches.


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