Three people accused of alleged scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to help homeless people
Attorney General Bonta files suspected theft in Los Angeles-based homelessness program
By Sam Catamzaro
California Attorney General Rob Bonta files a lawsuit against three defendants allegedly involved in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of public funds from Los Angeles-based People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), two of whom were employees, for the benefit of family and friends.
According to the complaint, PATH funds, intended to provide resources for the transition of homeless people into homes by providing them with affordable housing and other services, were instead used by the defendants for their own purposes.
On September 9, 2021, following an investigation by the Commercial Crime Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Attorney General filed a 56-count felony complaint, charging the defendants – Latoi Pledger, Sareena Stevenson and Valencia Stevenson – of robbery and embezzlement, as well as a special allegation of aggravated white collar crime with loss of over $ 100,000.
The Los Angeles Homeless Authority has contracted PATH with the construction and management of affordable housing and shelters, as well as the provision of support services, including the A Bridge Home homeless shelter in Venice.
From January to September 2017, working together, the three defendants, including two employees of PATH, allegedly exploited the system by submitting fraudulent referrals and requests for assistance to PATH for clients who were not homeless and therefore ineligible. to receive PATH funds, the complaint states.
“These clients included their associates, friends and families, whose identities they manipulated through forged and forged documents, such as leases and income documents, so that they appeared eligible for PATH assistance,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
All three defendants have pleaded not guilty and are due to appear in court again next month, on Los Angeles Times reported, who also writes that PATH reported the alleged misconduct to the LAPD and cooperated with the investigation. “As an organization dedicated to ending homelessness for individuals, families and communities, we are dismayed that people are taking valuable resources away from vulnerable and homeless people,” he said. PATH said in a statement.
According to PATH, approximately $ 400,000 was stolen. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and PATH’s insurance company covered part of the loss.