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January 18, 2021
 
Ex-Program Manager at Housing Nonprofit Pleads Guilty to Theft

December 26, 2020 — A California woman who previously worked at Heading Home, a Charlestown nonprofit that provides emergency shelter and housing services to homeless and formerly homeless families and individuals, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a scheme to steal funds from the organization to buy gift cards and pay personal bills, Attorney General Maura Healey announced this week.

On Tuesday, Donna Scott, age 52, of Vallejo, California, pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court via Zoom to the charge of Larceny over $250 (1 count), the AG reported.

Scott had been working for the agency as a program manager at Heading Home, focusing on housing and stabilization issues during, the time of the theft, the AG’s office said.

Following the plea, Judge Peter Krupp sentenced her to three years of probation, with home confinement and GPS monitoring for the first year, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $45,132.59 to the Heading Home, according to the AG’s office.

The AG’s office said the charges resulted from a joint investigation by it and the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General.

“Our state’s nonprofits work hard to help residents in Massachusetts and should not be taken advantage of by employees looking to abuse their positions for personal gain,” said Healey. “We are pleased that these funds will be returned to Heading Home, Inc. so that it can continue its mission of helping low-income families find housing and receive support.”

“Donna Scott was entrusted to help the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents find stable housing,” said Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha. “Instead, she diverted public funds to enrich herself and her family members. We thank Heading Home for alerting our office to her theft and cooperating with our joint investigation to hold Ms. Scott accountable.”

According to the AG’s Office, an investigation is led “revealed that from March 2015 through November 2016, Scott embezzled more than $45,000 dollars from Heading Home,” a nonprofit housing agency primarily funded by state grants.

“The funds that Scott stole—and used to purchase gift cards and pay personal bills—were intended to provide transitional and permanent housing and support services to low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people and their families,” the AG’s office said.

Scott was indicted by a Statewide Grand Jury in September 2019. She was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court in October 2019.

Heading Home was founded as Shelter, Inc. in 1974 was a leader in advancing the Housing First model, which prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness. In 2008, the agency moved away from an emphasis on emergency responses to a focus on permanent housing and adopted its current name.

Today, Heading Home, which provides direct services to more than 1,400 Greater Bostonians annually, owns and operates 10 properties that house and serve clients, and has about 500 affordable housing units in its portfolio assisting about 900 people.

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