Akron, Summit County request Oriana House audits

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 17:48:41-05

Officials with the city of Akron and Summit County are requesting audits related to service contracts with Oriana House.

"It is critical that Akron residents have full confidence that their public dollars are being well spent... I have asked my staff to see that the city's contract with Oriana House is subjected to a full, independent audit," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.

Bernie Rochford, the agency's executive director, said he welcomes the requests.

"We expected it. We encourage it. If there's any questions or issues, let's put them on the table," Rochford said.

Rochford said Akron has a $3.9 million dollar contract and Summit County has a $5.9 million dollar contract to help fund community corrections and drug and alcohol programs.

Akron Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples raised concerns after parents told council about two men who overdosed at Oriana House facilities. One of them died. The other survived.

"We all should be concerned. We, as the taxpayers in this city, we should be concerned and we have the right to question when we're the ones paying for it," Mosley-Samples said.

Rochford estimated 20 to 25 other people survived overdoses at agency buildings in 2016.

He explained that the heroin and fentanyl epidemic is to blame for the surge and said some clients, who come and go from Oriana House buildings, have found ways to sneak in drugs.

"We don't do strip searches. We don't do body cavity searches. That's just not something any community corrections program would do."

Mosley-Samples said she would like to see Akron police officers at the buildings.

"It's one thing to be patted down by an employee, than being met by an Akron police officer at the gate. You would think twice about it if you're going to try to bring drugs into a facility," she said.

Rochford said Oriana House has taken additional security measures in the past two years, including additional drug testing and using six employees to travel from building to building to conduct "shakedowns."

Rochford said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections has also been asked to review procedures and policies at Oriana House.