Travel woes – Funds misuse charged

Two officials of a nonprofit boosting exchanges between North Carolina and Israel have been indicted on charges they used federal dollars illegally, The News & Observer in Raleigh reported May 8.

Lenore Behar, a former member of the board of directors of the North Carolina-Israel Partnership and former head of the child and families section of the state division of mental health, was indicted on 26 counts — in addition to 18 charges she already faces of misusing federal funds in another project, the newspaper said.

Merritt A. Mulman, the partnership’s former executive director and before that a Duke University administrator who handled big financial gifts, was named in five counts of the new indictment.

Behar’s lawyer told the newspaper the charges were not warranted, while Mulman said his lawyer had advised him not to comment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office accuses Behar of using hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for travel between the U.S. and Israel, renovate an Israeli college, bring Israeli experts to the U.S. and pay for chaperones for North Carolina students who visited Israel.

The money was supposed to be used to help youngsters in the foster-care or adoption system, the newspaper said, and research, studies, training or other services unrelated to adoption or foster care don’t fall under the federal reimbursement program.

The partnership was created in 1995 with the backing of then-Gov. Jim Hunt to promote business, cultural and research exchanges with Israel. Five members of Hunt’s inner circle sat on its board of directors, the News & Observer said.

For full story, go to The News & Observer.

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