Ex-CEO of homeless shelters gets 1 year in jail

  • In US
  • 2022-09-30 11:21:00Z
  • By The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

Sep. 30-LAWRENCE - The former CEO and president of Casa Nueva Vida Inc. homeless shelters was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail for stealing from the state-supported shelters in Lawrence and Boston.

Manuel Duran, 70, of West Roxbury was previously indicted for stealing almost $1.5 million.

He pleaded guilty to all 9 charges he faced in Suffolk County Superior Court, accused of theft, lying under oath and making false entries in corporate books.

He was transported to Suffolk County House of Corrections at South Bay, in Boston, where he will serve the year followed by 4 years of probation.

Superior Court Judge Michael Doolin also ordered Duran to make restitution, the amount of which will be determined in a Dec. 14 Zoom hearing; prohibited him from working as a trustee or in transitional housing; and ordered that he complete 250 hours of community service.

The plea bargain averted a Nov. 4 jury trial.

"Manuel Duran's schemes and blatant abuse of power led to the destruction of a valuable charitable organization and basic services for our state's most vulnerable residents," said Massachusetts Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey.

"We are pleased to deliver accountability in this case."

The AG's office was seeking 4 to 6 years in state prison for Duran.

Duran was represented by Boston attorney Thomas Dwyer.

Dwyer had recommended that his client be sentenced to 2.5 years of home detention.

"The judge was fair and gave great credit to the serious mental health issues relating to his wife," Dwyer said.

Earlier this year, Healey reached a $6 million agreement with Duran's lawyer on a civil case to settle allegations Duran abused his position to funnel $2.29 million in state money to himself.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development had funded Casa Nueva at between $6 million and $7 million annually to temporarily house and help find permanent housing for homeless families.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development did not respond to a request for comment on today's pleas and sentencing.

As of July 1, DHCD assigned its $7 million contract - upward of 95% of the CNV annual budget - to the Boston-based emergency shelter organization Heading Home.

It now manages Casa Nueva's administrative and financial functions while the staff, a large majority of whom are bilingual, continue to serve the residents.

CNV has three homeless shelters in Lawrence, serving some 48 families and 125 people, mostly single mothers with children. The children range in age from babies to college students.

Duran resigned last year after having been executive director of CNV for about 30 years and president of its board of directors since 2008.

Separate lawsuits filed in federal court by two former employees against CNV and Duran were settled with Duran's attorney in August, according to federal court records.

John Koury, the lawyer representing the former employees, Oscar Vega and Jose M. Martinez Hernandez, had no comment on Thursday's plea and sentencing of Duran.

The two former maintenance workers had claimed they were cheated out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, falsely led to believe their labor was benefiting people in need, and fired for complaining about withheld wages and cooperating with investigators looking into Duran's business activities.


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