OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced charges against three defendants allegedly involved in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands in public funds from Los Angeles-based nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless (PATH). PATH funds, which are used to provide resources to transition unhoused individuals and families 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 Los Angeles Police Department’s Commercial Crimes Division, the Attorney General filed a 56-count felony complaint, charging the defendants with grand theft and embezzlement, as well as a special allegation of aggravated white collar crime with loss over $100,000.
“By helping families secure a roof over their heads, tax-payer funded programs like PATH provide Californians in need with an invaluable resource,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “When these programs are taken advantage of or stolen from, the individuals and families who depend on them are the most harmed. We are grateful to the Los Angeles Police Department for their investigation and continued partnership in this matter.”
“This was a very lengthy and complex investigation,” said LAPD Captain Lillian Carranza. “We are very proud of the work done by our Commercial Crimes Detectives. This case could not have been brought to fruition without their work ethic, tenacity, and commitment to duty. The victims of these crimes deserve justice and due process. We are tremendously grateful to Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Special Prosecutions Section of the California Department of Justice for their partnership and support.”
The Los Angeles Homeless Authority contracted PATH in 2016 to serve those without homes by allocating public funds to property owners or management companies on behalf of their clients. From January to September of 2017, working in concert with one another, the three defendants, two of whom were employed by PATH, allegedly exploited this model by submitting fraudulent referrals and assistance requests to PATH for clients who were not homeless and thus ineligible to receive PATH funds. These clients included their associates, friends, and families, whose identities they manipulated through forged and falsified materials, such as leases and income documents, so that they appeared eligible for PATH assistance.
The defendants have all been arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
A copy of the complaint is available here.