The executive director of a Jamaica Plain non-profit that ran more than a dozen homeless shelters in Boston and Lawrence was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to do 250 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty to three counts of larceny over $1,200, two counts of making false entries in corporate books and four counts of perjury, the state Attorney General's office reports.
Manuel Duran, 70, of West Roxbury, the former executive director of Casa Nueva Vida, will also be ordered to pay restitution in an amount that still has to be calculated for the money he stole over an nine-year period, the attorney general's office reports.
In July, Casa Nueva Vida, which specialized in helping Spanish-speaking families, was taken over by another group, Heading Home:
As you may know, Casa Nueva Vida supported primarily Spanish-speaking families in Boston and Lawrence. Due to past CEO improprieties, CNV’s mission/programs were at risk of closing. After careful consideration and legal support from Ropes & Gray, Mintz, and our incredible Board of Directors, Heading Home announced that former CNV programs would become a division of Heading Home – keeping their mission intact, families safely and stably housed, and staff employed.
Duran was indicted last September after somebody dropped a dime to the state inspector general's office. According to the attorney genera's office:
As CNV’s Executive Director, Duran essentially had complete control of CNV’s $7 million budget, directed procurement and site selections, and managed facility maintenance and staffing across all locations.
The investigation revealed that Duran allegedly used this power to lease four of his privately owned properties and one owned by a relative to CNV as shelter locations, hiding his interests in the transactions through use of limited liability companies. On behalf of CNV, Duran allegedly signed four annual disclosure forms under oath, attesting falsely that the organization, among other things, was not a party to any transaction in which any of its officers, directors, or trustees had a material financial interest. The forms were submitted to the AG’s Non-Profit and Public Charities Division.
The investigation further revealed three different fraudulent financial schemes that Duran allegedly used to steal from CNV.
From 2014 to 2021, the AG’s Office alleges that Duran skimmed rent money paid by CNV for a shelter site in Lawrence by using a shell company he set up as a middleman. Authorities allege that Duran made inflated rent payments from CNV through the shell company to the owners of the property and siphoned off more than $1.1 million for his personal use.
The AG’s investigation also revealed that between 2012 and 2020, Duran allegedly created fraudulent invoices and contracts to obtain checks made out to three different vendors for work they never performed. The named vendors would cash the checks with Duran present, and provide the cash directly to him. Duran allegedly stole $242,012 from CNV in these fraudulent vendor payments for purported services including renovations, lead abatement, and asbestos abatement.
The AG’s Office further alleges that between 2014 and 2019, Duran stole approximately $140,831 from CNV by depositing directly into his own business bank account paychecks issued to a seasonal maintenance employee for CNV who was in Puerto Rico when the paychecks were issued.