Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frank Keough not the only crook in the shelter system

Former homeless shelter Francis Keough III was ordered back to prison this month for breaking into a house he used to own to steal furniture no longer his.  He'd just finished serving two years in federal prison for conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, witness tampering and perjury charges, but apparently was willing to risk even more prison time while on parole to retrieve a kitchenette set.  Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees!  This is the same Keough who, when running the Friends of the Homeless shelter, reimbursed himself $165 for a pair of shoes he'd ruined while exploring the flood in the shelter's basement where homeless people stayed.

Keough is not alone, of course, in treating the homeless as his personal cash cows.

Earlier this week the former executive assistant of a youth crisis shelter in Los Alamito, California was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling nearly half a million from the shelter and spending it on remodeling her home, going on vacation, and buying lots of new clothes.  LA Times.

Two years ago, a shelter director and the CEO of  City of Angels Medical Center in Los Angeles were indicted (and have since pled guilty) to a $1 million fraud scheme where they offered to pay homeless people to pretend they had received medical treatment at the hospital.

While personal gain does seem to be the primary motive for shelter fraud, one Detroit shelter director and his bookkeeper had "higher" motives: they funneled $750,000 of the shelter's money into a shell company that then contributed to Democratic Party candidates and causes. Debbie Schlussel.

Lest I give the impression that only shelter directors are crooks,  when Keough went down, after a U.S. Justice Department investigation began in 2004, so did the head of the Springfield Housing Authority Ray Asselin and nearly his entire family including his son, a former state representative, Carol Aranjo and her husband and son for stealing from (and destroying) the Edward G. Wells Credit Union, former Police Commission Chairman and head of the Mass. Career Development Center Gerald Phillips for fraud, and former Albano mayoral aide Anthony Aldolino and his brother Chet, a former police officer, for fraud and filing false income tax returns.

I bring this up today only so we can remind ourselves that no one in a position of public trust deserves to go unexamined.

Photo from 10b travelling's photostream at Flickr.

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