Coraworks, CORA, CORA LLC / NON-PAYMENT of Wages, Unethical behavior toward the Disabled.

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Update to Cora story by news reporter out of Wisconsin:

CORA accused of not paying workers
State paid company nearly $200, 000
Updated: Tuesday, 09 Feb 2010, 5:37 PM CST
Published : Tuesday, 09 Feb 2010, 5:37 PM CST

Reporter: Lou Hillman
Denise Mundt and Terri Ryan have never met each other, but these two women are telling a very similar horror story about their time working for the same company.

"As soon as we asked for our money, we were let go, " said Mundt.

"I'm hurt that they used us like that, all of us, " said Ryan.

The company is called CORA. It stands for Creating Opportunities by Recognizing Abilities. Based in New Jersey, CORA was set up to provide adults with special needs the opportunity to job train and work from their homes. Most of the work is data entry and can be done on the computer.

"That's why they thought this would be a perfect fit for all of us who are disabled that literally can't be outside of our home but still feel important because we are doing a job, " said Mundt.

Mundt has physical problems that prevent her from standing for long periods of time. While showing us what was her work area at her home in Fond du Lac, she broke down crying, thinking about what could have been.

"This was my perfect fit, this was my ideal job and it's gone."

Gone because Mundt quit CORA in December. She said she had problems getting paid.

"It wasn't just two days late or a week late, it was months, " said Mundt.

For others, the paychecks still haven't arrived. Terri Ryan of Peshtigo quit CORA in September. She is still owed more than $1, 000.

"It is my intention to pay everything that should be paid for people that honestly worked, " said Ilene Morris-Sambur, CORA's founder and CEO.

Morris-Sambur said those who haven't been paid performed poorly, even saying they ruined the company's reputation.

"Many people that are disabled and I am disabled... I have 3 different disabilities... I am blown away by the fact that these people feel that they are owed something, " said Morris-Sambur.

But Denise Mundt and Terri Ryan say they did good work and deserve to be paid. They're not alone.

FOX 11 has been able to track down at least nineteen other people from all over Wisconsin who worked for CORA. All are either owed money, had trouble getting paid, or received bad checks.

So, how did all these people here in Wisconsin end up working for the same troubled company in New Jersey? The answer may surprise you. They all tell FOX 11 they were found out about the job through the state Department of Workforce Development.

Not only were special needs workers being referred to CORA, the state even paid the company about $3, 500 for each person hired. The money was meant to provide training and job placement with CORA or another company.

But former employees say they never received any training -- instead, claiming the company put them to work right away on CORA's contracts. They say the state's money, nearly $200, 000, never went where it was intended.

"That does make me angry. If they're going to start dishing out taxpayers money for something like this it should be well investigated, " said Terri Ryan.

A spokesman for the Department of Workforce Development released a statement saying "we are very concerned with the situation involving CORA" and that the state "terminated the contract in June 2009 due to the organization's failure to fulfill obligations."

While many of the former CORA employees have since found work elsewhere, they feel the need to speak out against the company and it’s CEO.

"What she's done is wrong. She has scammed so many people out of their money and by the time these people find out, it's too late, " said Mundt.

Many say the opportunity felt too good to be true... they now say it was.

We're told there have been several hundred complaints against CORA to the New Jersey Department of Labor. Those complaints are from all over the country. New Jersey officials tell us they can't comment because the case remains open.

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  • Bo
      10th of Feb, 2010

    Seeing a story aired finally about the troubles people have gone through with this company produces a bittersweet emotion in my heart!
    It was painful for me to watch because the original concept of Cora sounded so great! I really wanted to believe it was true and that I would be able to work from my home. It is so hard to believe that someone could have perpetrated a scheme like this on such a massive level spread out across the country. I have questioned myself everyday whether or not I have done the right thing by speaking out about the bullying & abuse that was taken out on the employees. Seeing this story helps me to realize that yes I have done the right thing. No one should ever have to go through what they went through while they worked at Cora. Disabled or not – every human being deserves RESPECT & DIGNITY! If they have worked, poorly or not, it is the duty of the employer to pay that person for the hours worked until the day that person is fired, furloughed, or quit, etc. I was lucky I managed to get all my pay for the time I was there from May until August 2009. I was there only three months. And I QUIT – I was the one that initiated the termination of the relationship first! I did so because I could no longer sit back and watch how the people were being mistreated! It broke my heart, I couldn’t eat, I could barely sleep, and I cried all the time! Everyone I met – co-workers, team leaders, project managers – they we are all BRILLANT and TALENTED people who WORKED VERY HARD!!! Ilene Morris-Sambur a/k/a Ilene Fell is the only one who stood in the way of the company having any REAL success! I still don’t sleep well, and I still cry about it from time to time. The only way I think I will be able to truly heal from this experience is to know that justice has been delivered and that wheels are put into motion to help prevent what happened with Cora from happening elsewhere.
    Thank you so much WLUK Channel 11 for bringing this story to light in the public eye!

    +2 Votes
  • Fe
      2nd of Jun, 2010

    I too was an employee from Cora in Wisconsin and I lasted over 6 months, I began to see how they were confusing us, abusing those who truley needed this paycheck they had earned! I could tell after a while that Ilene did not know what she was doing. Just wanting the state money and pretty much making up little jobs for us to do just to keep us connected instead of doing what they were suppost to be which was finding us other jobs, and they never ever did that. Ilene is a big scammer and has been scamming in other names, she should have to pay the State Money back!!! she and her family went on extravagent vacations!!! I think she needs to spend time in jail to see what abuse is really like because what she did to the disabled workers is a big SHAME
    and she really needs to pay for that! what goes around comes around!!

    +1 Votes
  • Jo
      27th of Feb, 2014

    Maybe if she hadn't wasted all those government dollars on Second Life Property and Buildings, which could barely be accessed by the excuse of equipment they provided to their employees... she would have had the money to pay my co-workers what they were worth. I was the first employee to be fired for bringing this to her attention, and I can only hope that she sits in jail for Federal Fraud. After spending countless hours fielding tech setups. I informed IMS of the problems that faced the entire Second Life Project. It was too complex for the job, and had many technical issues considering the joke of a machine that was purchased for each employee (VR allotted 1500 for equipment and 3500 for training. They paid 350ish for an Intel based Dell desktop with integrated graphics. the other money was supposed to be used to train us, but instead they slowly paid us with it until they couldn't catch up with the ponzi she was running turning tax dollars into L$... I worked with some brilliant people, all of you. The top three CEO (IMS), President (Neil), and her son (he was utility executive) are complicit in Felony Fraud, and I can assure you, I was the FIRST ONE to say something about it. I was promptly terminated for excused absences related to my disability in which I had to have all of my teeth removed due to infection, so that just shows you how they really felt about the Disabled Community whether or not they really were disabled as they all claimed. She took better care of those birds and her snack habit than she did us. The "Virtual Offices" we had in Second Life were amazing, and so was the concept, but you should never spend millions of dollars on something that you can't physically touch. PERIOD. MILLIONS! As soon as I stated that the project was in a FAIL state, it was blamed on me as I was terminated the week before my birthday, and with bad references that crept into every job I applied for, I can only attribute that to the sting of someone telling her she was about to kill the company, RIGHT BEFORE SHE DID IT.

    +1 Votes

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