Posts Tagged ‘Hope Foster Family Agency’
Riverside agency director indicted. How to ‘Shortchange,’ abused and neglected children without really trying.
The Business of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
Vivian Lieska Benn, the CEO and owner of the Riverside ‘ Family Hope,’ Foster Family Agency, was charged with 6 felony counts of embezzlement and money-laundering.
Ms. Benn is accused of spending about $400,000 in public funds, which were allocated for the care of abused and neglected children. The public money was spent on such things as Ms. Benn’s personal mortgage, trips to various casinos, assorted ATM withdrawals, cruises, timeshares, and those cute red shoes in the window at Bloomingdales, which she just had to have.
The foster care agency was her piggy bank. And one wonders if some CEO’s and directors from questionable agencies, are just a little bit nervous right about now. Tick tick tick tick tick…
The District Attorney opened an investigation, when an audit revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars were missing. This led to evidence of money laundering and embezzled funds.
The District Attorney Paul Zellerbach put out a written statement;
“The lives of these children have already been severely disrupted so for someone who has been entrusted with their care to steal funds intended to benefit those children is certainly one of the worst crimes Imaginable.”
Apparently, the Riverside County Auditor-Controller’s Office, and their District Attorney, who initiated a 3 year investigation after the audit, take these things more seriously than do our Los Angeles County counterparts.
This is the first time in memory, one recalls an actual indictment, because of financial improprieties from a foster agency director, CEO, or board member.
And it took Riverside county to do it.
And this outrageous and self serving statement, was spewed out by Social Services spokeswoman Sayori Baldwin;
“A review of Family Hope showed none of the children’s services such as food, clothing, medical needs, counseling or tutoring were shortchanged as a result of the theft.”
Now lets get this straight.
Benn is accused of stealing close to a half million dollars (that we know about), from monies meant for foster children. Yet the abused and neglected children were never “shortchanged?” Does this spokeslady really believe this?
The abused and neglected children weren’t shortchanged?
Consider all the monies which were siphoned, and contemplate the good that money could have done. What extra services and benefits would our foster children have received? Tutors, lessons, heck, some of these kids haven’t been to a movie in years, let alone a Dodger game. We are talking about stuff. Stuff to make the lives of foster children a little less miserable.
And according to the D.A, Vivian Benn took the money to the casino. And one doubts she succeeded on her double down.
Now in Los Angeles county, there never seems to be a prosecution of a bad guy or gal. Not for paying ghost employees as a favor to your mob buddies, not for buying condos, and not for having friends and family on the payroll even though they are sick at home, or living in another state. And no county concern, for working a few hours a week, yet being paid full time 6 figured salary.
Previously, the only consequence of skullduggery, was the agency being closed down, along with the return of a fraction of the missing dollars. This only happened after strained negotiations with agency attorneys, who behaved and were treated by county officials, as if the discredited agencies had the upper hand.
Ms. Benn, who has been involved with other children agencies in the past, including one called ‘Hintons Manor,’ has made a good living providing for our child abuse victims during the past decade. At Hintons Manor, during the years 2004, and 2005, Ms. Benn has salaries listed at about $100,000 annually.
Then in 2011, which is the only other tax return listed, this same agency is documented as having negative assets and liabilities. And why are there no tax returns for the missing years?
This all presumably happened, during the same decade as the money laundering and funneling of funds into shell accounts, which took place at the the Family Hope Foster Agency.
Benn was a busy lady. And there are legitimate doubts regarding the effectiveness of her lucky number at the Pachanga Casino.
Three cheers, and the sound of one hand clapping to Riverside county officials, who got it right. Yes it is “small potatoes,” in the scheme of things.
Well, small potatoes, except to the abused and neglected children. Because, unless you are the spokeswoman for Riverside County social services, who noted all was well, these foster children are always shortchanged.
Without really trying.