Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Housing Nonprofit Investigated Over Use Of Federal Funds

The United States Attorney's office is conducting an investigation to determine whether a now-defunct Portsmouth, Va.-based housing nonprofit misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds.

The organization, the Center for Community Development Inc., (CCDI) had worked in Portsmouth since 1990 to help renovate and provide homes to the needy. Bill Price, a spokesman for the Commonwealth's Attorney Earle Mobley, told The Virginian-Pilot that investigators were concerned about that amount of money that was used by the nonprofit.

“Based on the amount of money and that a significant portion was federal money, we asked the federal authorities to review it,” said Price.

The Center used $313,000 in federal funds from Portsmouth to renovate three properties, funds that the city eventually had to repay to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because the projects weren’t completed under the federal HOME program. In addition to the $313,000, CCDI received $256,000 from the city council between November 2011 and December 2012.

CCDI closed in February 2012 and the Internal Revenue Service had put about $43,000 in tax liens on at least one of its properties.

For his part, CCDI founder Maury Cooke said Monday that the group's executive director, Bruce AsBerry, had requested a federal investigation into Portsmouth's money-lending practices and that he believes the organization is a victim of racial discrimination.

You can read the full story in The Virginian-Pilot.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ex-Kid's Charity CEO Convicted Of Sexual Assault

The founder and former CEO of an Atlanta, Ga.-based kid's charity was convicted on Friday on 22 counts of sexual assault of a child, according to a report on the website of NBC's Colorado affiliate.

Richard Lee Koca, Sr., was the head of Stand Up for Kids, a nonprofit that serves at-risk homeless youth, from its inception in 1990 until August 2012, when an alleged victim came forward. According to a report last year in The Denver Post, Koca was charged with assaulting a child under his protection in his home in Aurora, Colo. At the time, police believed there might have been other victims because of Koca's work with minors, though no others were ever identified.

A spokeswoman for Stand Up for Kids would not comment on the conviction, saying only that the organization is "praying for the family" of the child. The group's website does not list a current CEO, though it lists Kelly Fields as executive director of its Atlanta headquarters.

Prior to his time at Stand Up for Kids, Koca had spent 30 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, and was posted in spots all around the world, including Panama. Police said that during his time in that country, he served as a Scout Master for the Boy Scouts of America. In addition, he also volunteered at an orphanage in England.