NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - State inspectors closed a food bank after finding roaches and dead rodents throughout its warehouse.
Stop Hunger Inc. failed a recent Florida Department of Agriculture inspection, according to state records.
After being invited into the warehouse at 12050 NE 14th Avenue, Local 10 found a dead rodent on the floor and live rodents stuck in a trap.
"I'm surprised it's closed and I don't see nobody here," said Bill McCray, a client who picks up food for six people in his home.
The warehouse cannot reopen until the affected areas have been adequately cleaned, sanitized, and management implements a pest control program.
"Clients didn't come into the warehouse," said Samuel Eudovique, a member of the board of directors who has taken over day-to-day operations. "They usually picked up outside and had no idea what was going on."
Eudovique said Tatyana Kats resigned as president after the board began asking questions about the food bank's finances. Kats became president after her companion, North Miami Beach councilman Julius Littman, died.
Littman started Stop Hunger Inc. 28 years ago.
"We started asking questions and the questions led to tensions and different accusations," he said.
Records show Miami-Dade County stopped sending $109,000 in taxpayer money to help fund Stop Hunger Inc., saying the food bank had cash problems and lacked proper authorization on expense reports and disbursements.
"Monies that came in, and then we were always in the red. When I started looking at it, that surprises me," said Eudovique. "If this came in, where is it [and] why are we in the condition we're in."
Kats said the landlord planted the rodents because he wants to rent the warehouse space to someone else. She blamed other issues on an executive director.
"They did [it] this way, they created the situation this way, they put the situation like this," said Kats.
She admitted the organization was behind on paying its taxes but said there were no money problems. Her attorney, Frank Wolland, has been kicked off the property.
"We just think it's a great charity that just got mismanaged," said Eudovique. "The organization has done a great job in the community despite what happened behind closed doors, and I think it's needed, and so we still need your support."
The board hired a pest control company and the Department of Agriculture plans to do a re-inspection. The board also plans to discuss fiscal discrepancies and what to do about them in the near future.
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