The former executive director of Casa Nueva Vida (CNV), a publicly funded non-profit homeless shelter with locations in Boston and Lawrence, has been indicted in connection with stealing nearly $1.5 million from the organization and lying under oath to conceal his self-dealing, Attorney General Maura Healey announced last week.
Manuel Duran, age 69, of West Roxbury, the former executive director and board president of CNV, was indicted on Monday by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on charges of Perjury (4 counts), Larceny over $1,200 (3 counts), and Making False Entries in Corporate Books (2 counts). He will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on Oct. 20.
An investigation was initiated by the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in response to an anonymous tip. These criminal charges are a result of a joint investigation conducted by the AG’s Office and the OIG, with assistance from Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office.
CNV, headquartered in Jamaica Plain, houses over 150 families at 14 locations in Boston and Lawrence. 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.
These charges are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. CNV fully cooperated and assisted with the AG’s investigation.
This criminal matter is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Mindy Klenoff and Chief Trial Counsel James O’Brien, both of AG Healey’s White Collar and Public Integrity Division, and Victim Witness Advocate Lia Panetta, with assistance from Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, and Senior Investigators Jack Meyers and Will Bradford from OIG.