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Ex-homeless shelter head agrees to pay $6M settlement

January 13, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — The former head of a publicly funded nonprofit that runs homeless shelters in Massachusetts has agreed to pay $6 million to settle allegations that he funneled state money to himself by renting properties he owned to the shelter at inflated rates, the state attorney general’s office announced Thursday.

The consent judgment, entered in Suffolk Superior Court on Wednesday, resolves a lawsuit filed in September against Manuel Duran, the former executive director and CEO of Casa Nueva Vida, which has multiple family shelters in Boston and Lawrence.

Duran signed leases on the organization’s behalf for investment properties he owned, charged substantially above fair rental value, and directed the organization to use funding it received from the state to pay for improvements, the attorney general’s office said.

He then falsely certified compliance with state regulations designed to detect such dealings, the office said. The organization was at the time more than 90% state funded, authorities said.

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Duran redirected more than $2 million in state funds to himself through his actions, but because this case was brought under the state’s False Claims Act, which allows for up to triple damages, Duran will pay the state $6 million, the attorney general’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,” Attorney General Maura Healey said.

Thomas Dwyer Jr., Duran’s attorney, said his client is remorseful and will sell six properties to pay the settlement, including three currently being leased by Casa Nueva Vida. But he said no families will be displaced.