The ex-executive director of a closed-end Los Angeles anti-poverty nonprofit and a well-known Democratic fundraiser pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling money from the nonprofit, which received federal funding, prosecutors announced.
Prosecutors charged Howard Dixon Slingerland with embezzling and embezzling thousands of dollars from the federally funded Youth Policy Institute, which provided education, vocational training and other services to reduce youth poverty in Los Angeles.
Slingerland spent about $71,000 of the organization’s money on lavish dinners and other personal expenses.
He pleaded guilty to one count of “conversion and willful misuse of funds from an organization that receives federal money,” and one count of lying on tax returns.
The organization received more than $281 million in federal grants from 2009 to 2019, the year Slingerland was ousted as executive director, a position he had held since 1996. The nonprofit closed in 2019. Federal grants made up the bulk of its funding from the Youth Policy Institute. under the settlement agreement.
According to the Ministry of Justice, Slingerland risks a maximum prison sentence of 10 years for embezzlement and three years for tax assessment.
According to the plea deal, Slingerland spent $71,533 from the Youth Policy Institute on “unauthorized expenses” between January 2015 and February 2019.
The spending included:
- $14,703 to pay the property taxes on Slingerland’s house in May 2017.
- $6,131 for a family dinner at Momofuku Ko, an upscale two-star Michelin restaurant in New York City, in November 2017.
- $10,805 in tutoring for a family member in early 2018.
- $1,979 on a computer and software in February 2019.
Slingerland also misused part of a $1.5 million federal grant his organization received for a job program for young adults who had been exposed to the criminal justice system, according to the plea deal.
- $401,561 on the Youth Policy Institute payroll, unauthorized under the grant, as of July 2019.
- $201,466 to make payments to Youth Policy Institute credit cards, including fees incurred by Slingerland.
A statement from Slingerland’s attorney, Vicki Podberesky, suggested that Slingerland misallocated grant funds in 2019, in part to “cover salaries and expenses to keep the cash-strapped nonprofit running and its employees in work pending payment from the United States Department of Education for services rendered.”
According to the plea deal, Slingerland failed to report a total of approximately $450,000 in income from 2016 to 2019 on its tax returns.
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Slingerland raised money for Obama, had ties to the mayor of LA
Slingerland was also a major fundraiser during former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Non-profit went under in 2019
- Facing a serious financial struggle, the nonprofit fired Slingerland as CEO in September 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported.
- IRS filings show that Slingerland earned approximately $350.00 to $400,000 annually in his final years as CEO.
- The Institute for Youth Policy announced its final closure in October 2019.
- Mayor Garcetti lamented the loss of the programs the nonprofit offered when it closed, the Los Angeles Times reported.