Former head of homeless shelter sued for lying and funneling $2M to himself

Boston Statehouse

Court issues order freezing his bank accounts for $2 million

(file/MGN photo)

BOSTON (WWLP) – A former executive director for a publicly funded non-profit homeless shelter is being sued for abusing his position to improperly funnel more than $2 million in state money to himself, all while falsely certifying compliance with state regulations designed to detect such improper self-dealing, according to Attorney General Maura Healey. 

A complaint was filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court alleging Manuel Duran, the former Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer, President and Board Member of Casa Nueva Vida (CNV) in Boston and Lawrence, used shell companies he established and owned to purchase properties he then leased to CNV at above-market rates, pocketing the difference.

The AG’s Office alleges 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.

“For many years and through various illegal schemes, Duran abused his position as the head of a non-profit homeless shelter to improperly funnel state funds to himself,” AG Healey said. “We’ve taken action to hold him accountable for allegedly lining his pockets with millions of dollars in state funding meant for the shelter and the families it serves.”

Duran was also criminally indicted on Monday by a Suffolk County Grand Jury. The Court froze four of Duran’s bank accounts in the amount of $2 million. The AG’s office filed the Court order due to risk that Duran could leave Massachusetts with cash, having recently sold properties in the state. 

According to a news release from the Attorney General’s office, from March 2003 through March 2021, Duran served in various leadership roles at CNV, a non-profit that was at least 92 percent state funded from fiscal year 2015 through 2019, that allowed him to control CNV’s day-to-day operations, as well as its real estate investments and leases.

The AG’s Office alleges that from fiscal year 2014 through 2019, Duran caused CNV to submit documents to the state that failed to disclose Duran’s own personal or business transactions with CNV, known as “related party transactions,” and enabled CNV to receive $33 million in state funding under a contract with the Department of Housing and Community Development for emergency homeless shelter services.

CNV was required to disclose any related party transactions to ensure the state that it was engaging in transactions on an arm’s length basis and was spending state funds in a fair and reasonably prudent manner. By not disclosing information regarding his related party transactions with CNV, Duran made it impossible for the state to evaluate CNV’s continued eligibility as a contractor.

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