BOSTON (WWLP) – A former executive director for a non-profit homeless shelter has been sentenced to jail in connection with stealing nearly $1.5 million, Attorney General Maura Healey announced.

Former executive director and board president Manuel Duran of West Roxbury pleaded guilty of Perjury (4 counts), Larceny over $1,200 (3 counts), and Making False Entries in Corporate Books (2 counts) of Casa Nueva Vida in Boston and Lawrence, which are now closed. Duran was sentenced to one year in the House of Correction followed by four years of probation, with the conditions that he completes 250 hours of community service and can no longer work as a fiduciary or in transitional housing.

He was also ordered to pay restitution with the amount to be determined at a hearing at a later date in December. The AG’s Office alleged that Duran’s failure to disclose his related party transactions allowed more than $2 million of state funds to be funneled to him for inflated rental payments and for improvements to properties he controlled and owned.

“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 AG Healey. “We are pleased to deliver accountability in this case.” 

“A short, anonymous email to our fraud hotline sparked our investigation, which uncovered Duran’s theft of $1.5 million – funds intended to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Acting Inspector General Natalie Monroe. “Our office, working with the Attorney General’s Office, has ensured that Duran is held accountable for his actions.” 

According to a news release from the Attorney General’s office, Duran skimmed rent money paid by Casa Nueva Vida for a shelter site in Lawrence by using a shell company he set up as a middleman, siphoning off more than $1.1 million for his personal use. The investigation also revealed he created fraudulent invoices and contracts to obtain checks for work that was never performed.

In a separate civil matter, the AG’s Office sued Duran in September 2021 for abusing his position to improperly funnel state money to himself, all while falsely certifying compliance with state regulations designed to detect such improper self-dealing.

Casa Nueva Vida housed more than 150 families at 14 locations in Boston and Lawrence. The shelter is now a division of Heading Home, one of the largest emergency housing and shelter providers in the Boston area.