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Philly 'Goods For Guns' Program Wasted Federal Funds, Audit Finds

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Guns collected during a separate gun buyback program in L.A. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- A foundation running a program in Philadelphia which allowed members of the public to exchange guns for grocery-store gift cards with no questions asked wasted nearly half-a-million dollars in federal grants, the Justice Department Inspector General found in a report issued Thursday.

The expenditures for the program, also known as Goods For Guns, were unallowable, unsupported and unreasonable, according to the report and a separate related audit, which also found that the executive director of Philadelphia Safety Net, Raymond Jones, spent over $3,000 in federal grant money on unreimbursed personal expenditures. Additionally, the board of PSN -- which included Jones' sister -- didn't properly oversee the organization.

PSN said in response to the findings that it had suspended all operations of the organization until a new board of directors was elected. But the foundation disagrees that Jones was overcompensated, suggesting that since he was PSN's only employee he also performed roles in addition to his job as executive director, including project manager, public relations director, grant manager, office manager and outreach coordinator.

The total unallowed costs associated with PSN included $346,394 related to the executive director's compensation, $43,697 in rent and utilities, gift cards totaling $36,300 and $52,792 in consultant expenditures.

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