Ex-ED to Pay Mass. $6M to Settle Allegations of Self-Dealing, Lying
January 14, 2022 — Manuel Duran, the former executive director of Casa Nueva Vida, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides temporary housing to homeless families, will pay $6 million to settle allegations he abused his position to improperly funnel state money to himself, while falsely certifying compliance with state regulations designed to detect such improper self-dealing, Attorney General Maura Healey announced yesterday.
The consent judgment, filed and entered in Suffolk Superior Court on Wednesday, resolves a civil lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office in September against Duran, the former executive director, chief executive officer, president and board member of Casa Nueva Vida (CNV).
In September, Duran was also criminally indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury in connection with stealing from CNV and lying under oath to hide his self-dealing. The AG’s criminal case against Duran is ongoing.
The lawsuit alleged Duran violated the Massachusetts False Claims Act by making false statements and material omissions on documents submitted to the state in which he failed to disclose his related party transactions. According to the AG’s Office, Duran signed leases on CNV’s behalf for investment properties he owned, charged CNV substantially above fair rental value, and directed CNV to utilize funding it received from the state to pay for improvements to properties he owned.
The AG’s complaint alleged Duran funneled approximately $2.29 million in state funds to himself through his illegal actions, but because this case was brought under the state’s False Claims Act, which allows for up to treble damages, Duran will pay the state $6 million, the AG’s office said.
“Manuel Duran abused his position of trust to pad his pockets with millions of dollars that should have gone to families in need,” Healey said.
Duran’s lawyer, Thomas Dwyer, told The Boston Globe that the settlement is the largest ever paid by an individual charged under the state’s false claims law.
Under the terms of the AG’s settlement, in addition to the required $6 million payment, Duran is permanently banned from working with CNV; accepting any position as a fiduciary at any Massachusetts public charity; working on or with any business connected to the state or a state entity or any business that receives funding from the state; and from forming a separate entity or operating under a different name in order to violate the AG’s consent judgment.
CNV houses more than 150 families, with particular attention to Hispanic 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, according to the AG’s office.
The AG’s office alleged that from 2014 to 2021 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 alleged that Duran made inflated rent payments from CNV through the shell company to the owners of the property.
Duran resigned from CNV last April, according to The Globe.
For the year ending June 30, 2020, CNV reported $6.9 million in revenue and $6.8 million in expenses, according to its most recently available federal financial information filing.
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