RAGS TO RICHES ON YOUR DIME - Oh Well, It's Helping Others


By Bob Weaver

Just as TV evangelists become millionaires from their supposedly selfless ministries, some social service executives have learned how to get rich from tax-supported people-helping agencies.

West Virginia's worst example may be Robert Graham, who was discovered last year scooping up nearly a half-million dollars a year from the Wyoming County Council on Aging and an affiliated care agency providing health services to the community.

Several weeks ago it was learned that his girlfriend, who became his wife, zoomed from $3.35 hourly pay to $80,000 a year.

A pretty good pay raise.

Graham's new wife is a high school graduate and divorced mother of two, who earned $3.35 an hour as a driver and typist for Graham's senior service agency.

She and the director became lovers, and he moved in with her in 2000 and they were married a year ago.

In sworn testimony she said her paycheck went up to $52,000 a year, plus $14,000 bonus, plus other benefits.

The Form 990 disclosure lists her 2003 compensation as $81,537.

A few state officials have filed a lawsuit against the agency.

A mental health center executive in Wheeling (Northwood), operated by taxpayer money, has been receiving about $500,000 annual salary.

His official board praised him for his keen management skills, after which he hired a public relations firm to market himself and his management expertise.