Family Ties director says she was never on board

February 16, 2013

irs fraudKeeping them homeless

By KAREN VELIE, JOSH FRIEDMAN and DANIEL BLACKBURN

(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series about San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services and the nonprofits managing the program.)

Family Ties, the local nonprofit charged with protecting the financial interests of homeless and indigent people’s assets has a board of directors that does not exist.

One of the three people listed as board members says she is not a member of the board and that she did not know the nonprofit ever was formed.

Jana Hanson, a local physician, was identified on a 2010 IRS 990 tax form as Family Ties’ chief financial officer. But Hanson says she never served.

“It came as quite a surprise that Neisen is filing IRS returns with me as the CFO,” Hanson wrote in an email to CalCoastNews. “I am consulting an attorney to see how this information needs to be corrected in any documents she may have filed.”

Neisen is listed as president and one of the three board members. The third board member, identified by Family Ties as Deborah Jett, has not been located despite sophisticated data base searches. Jett is listed as the vice president of the nonprofit.

Family Ties, owned and operated by Lisa Neisen, acts in association with Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) to deal with housing and related issues for the area’s homeless. In that role, Family Ties acts as designated substitute payee for numerous individuals, handling Social Security funds, income and general assistance money for those who ask to utilize CAPSLO’s homeless services.

Hanson said Niesen approached her between 10 and 15 years ago and told her she was planning to start a nonprofit that would help people in need of a guardian who did not qualify to be processed through the county. Niesen also is a full-time San Luis Obispo County employee, serving as chief deputy public guardian and managing finances for the mentally ill and the disabled.

“I did agree to be on her board of directors when she first applied for nonprofit status many years ago, but never received notification of any board meetings, reviewed any financial statements or had any role in the corporation,” Hanson wrote. “In fact, I have not seen Ms. Niesen nor had any communication with her in nearly a decade. I assumed her nonprofit never got off the ground or she found someone else to be on the board.”

Federal laws require that in order to operate as a 501(c)(4) and receive tax exempt status, nonprofits must have at least a three-person board of directors that meets a minimum of once a year, records meeting minutes and maintains other specified public records.

Neisen has not responded to repeated phone calls from reporters.

For years, CAPSLO officials have required homeless clients in need of shelter to provide 50 to 70 percent of their income to Neisen and Family Ties. The funds are supposed to go into an account to be used to get the client into housing.

Family Ties’ organizational statement claims all of its clients have “been deemed unable to manage their funds due to their disability or mental disease,” according clients as “incapable.” Family Ties has failed to name individuals responsible for issuing that particular classification.

Homeless clients and even some case managers have complained for years that money placed in trust by CAPSLO with Family Ties, has been embezzled. Administrators with CAPSLO have not responded to questions about alleged missing funds. CAPSLO officials contend they do not charge the homeless for services and that money saved for clients belongs to clients.

Keeping Them Homeless, the series.


95 Comments

  1. bobfromsanluis says:

    A couple of points here: In listening to Karen on The Dave Congalton Show yesterday (Friday February 15, 2013), Gary Fowler, a person who I believe is a retired CHP officer and sort of a self-appointed watchdog of city and possibly county management and government, mentioned to Karen when he called in that he had or was forwarding all of Karen’s reporting to at least a couple of government agencies including the IRS. In comparing this situation to that of the Kelly Gearhart scam, I understand that the wheels of government oversight and accountability move at a glacial pace, but they do march on, and every government official connected with these agencies in any professional capacity should be quaking in their boots. IF any fraud, abuse, embezzlement, improper accounting procedures, theft and failure to follow regulations governing non-profit boards and any sort of relationship with any local government agency that just doesn’t measure up to what is expected is eventually uncovered, we could see numerous arrests eventually.
    My other point is what I called into Dave’s show to speak to Karen about: How many stories has CCN had to fully retract due to the story being 100% wrong – the answer is NONE. Karen has had a few stories where she has gone back and made small corrections, even possibly a few medium sized corrections, but can anyone point to any story ever published here on CCN that was completely erroneous? Again, every single government official or employee who is involved with this brewing scandal better be looking for the best lawyer they can afford to avoid going to prison. Thank you CCN, keep up the good work holding elected officials and government employees to the letter of the law. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have to wonder how much other illegal, backroom dealings that are totally against the law our local elected and appointed officials have still hidden from public view ….

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 63 Thumb down 3

    • tomsquawk says:

      government will jump on this if they smell tax revenue

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  2. myword says:

    It certainly raises questions about tax evasion, fraud, mismanagement, theft and corruption. It appears that at some level Capslo and Family Ties go hand and hand.
    Questions:
    1. What is Capslo’s relationship with Family Ties? Contractual? Dual Fiduciary responsibilities?
    2. Who pays Family Ties?
    3. How does Capslo & Family Ties report between each other on their case management/client’s payee accounts. Begin at the beginning .
    4. Who holds the funds?
    5. Why are money orders used?
    Is it any wonder that San Luis Obispo County has more non-profits per capita that anywhere in the United States? Profit making businesses masquerading as non-profits are corrupt.
    My top picks to head up the investigation are: Internal Revenue Service, Attorney General, FBI, and the Social Security Department, and/or the CA Department of Public Health.

    Notice none of them are local? City Council and County leaders take notice.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 64 Thumb down 3

    • tomsquawk says:

      In general, NPO’s are required to file Federal and State tax returns. The government wants any tax money that may be due, obviously. Other than that there is only an issue if a NPO has not filed. I doubt if there are any other vaidations for provided information.

      That being said, with the false reporting, I would think that the state or the feds would love to disqualify a NPO in order to get additional revenue if it’s there.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  3. RU4Real says:

    Something STINKS about this whole “arrangement”…More corruption in SLO County! Nothing new…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 2

  4. tomsquawk says:

    not enough budget to police non-profits for non-existant officers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  5. SLOBIRD says:

    If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, talks like a duck, it must be a duck. This is the story that just keeps on giving.

    First, I am glad to hear that Dr. Hanson was not on board with all this improper actions because she has always appeared to be an upstanding and caring doctor and member of our community and I am glad to see she is not involved. Thank you for clearing that up CCN!

    As for the rest of this story, let’s get real. When you look at the professional background of Liz Steinberg, who has her BS in Home Economics and Master in Human Resources and Dee Torres who attended Cuesta College in 1994 (an Honored Cuesta Alumni in 2012) and then transferred over to Cal Poly (not sure she graduated as there dos not appears to be professional background profile for her on the internet – rare, but there is a Dee Torres who is a “Non-Profit Organization Management Professional” in the greater Los Angeles area – what are the chances of two Dee Torres doing the same type of work – it is amazing this organization even stayed afloat.

    The only reason they have been successful is because they know how to play cute, cuddly and cozy with all the right people, and in some cases sleeping with the right people. This whole situation is disturbing and disgusting as CCN continues to search, dig and remove one layer after another of the corruption of this organization. AND, if any of you think it is not corruption, you should have listened to Dave Congalton’s show yesterday about the emails Adam Hill is sending out threatening people about this series, including Dave Congalton, himself, and using his personal email account in doing so. Then there is the pressure being put on Jim Duenow, retired attorney and homeless advocate for supporting some of this information, etc. This is a big story as all the players are reaching out and trying to cover this up.

    To think that any respectable human being would intentionally go after he most needy of our society and use and abuse them is criminal.

    I want to know why it is OK for CAPSLO to take these people’s money with no accountability and yet it was criminal for De Vaul who obviously run a cleaner, honest and upfront operation to charge $300 for food and utilities.

    I want to know why the County Counsel, AGAIN, said there was no conflict-of-interest with Lisa Nieson being the County full-time paid Public Guardian for the mentally ill and having outside employment doing the same thing for an agency getting funding from the County, using the County phone, which also means County paid time and there is No-Conflict-Of-Interest. Are you people plain stupid, corrupt or are you all doing this on the side?

    I want to know why it is OK for CAPSLO to support and recommend Roanoke, or whatever that Homeless Living Center is on Hwy I going to Morro Bay but to condemn De Vaul’s place.

    Who picks and chooses the winner in this County. This whole mess is a scam and shame on anyone who is supporting or defending the fraud, theft, and behavior of these immoral people. Unfortunately, it is the less fortunate of our community that pays the price for all your misdeeds. You are all despicable creatures!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 65 Thumb down 2

    • Cindy says:

      There is clearly a conflict of interest. This woman is conducting private business while utilizing public owned assets and while on the public payroll. Whoever doesn’t believe that this is a conflict of interest needs to find a job in the private sector. These sycophant public servants simply can’t be tolerated any longer and that includes the County Council. It’s really long past time for the public to stand up and refuse to put up with this any longer. We seriously need to start at the top and begin the recall’s of the elected officials who have the authority to replace the incompetent and/or self serving managers.

      Set an example, demand action and a NO NONSENSE TOLERANCE, that is the only way to put an end to this. Seriously, the people in SLO need to start to take action, it starts with a RECALL of every elected official who is identified as a problem (for failure to correct the problem). One big recall list, one big vote.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 48 Thumb down 2

    • Myself says:

      Roandoak is no better than capslo and the rest, it also demands money from the people that it takes in there, in the form of their disability,welfare or what have you, and if you do not pay up for the month, they boot you out. Duval didn’t work that way, you only paid if you could, he still believed in helping these people, that most likely why he wasn’t in the loop with these people.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

    • SLOEducator says:

      Well said SLOBIRD. Biz Steinberg, Dee Torres and Lisa Nieson are frauds. Jim Duenow has always been a voice for justice, and even in retirement, continues to do so.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  6. Mr. Holly says:

    If Ms. Niesen hurries up and appoints Adam Hill and John Ashbaugh to her Board of Directors I’m sure that all will be forgiven.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 56 Thumb down 2

  7. taxpayer says:

    So if the paperwork was faked then there is no legal nonprofit status which means all the money collected was taxable. There needs to be a full forensic audit of both Family Ties and CAPSLO. What does it take to get arrested? Doesn’t CAPSLO have the responsibility of due diligence when directing people to give their check to another nonprofit? Every citizen, city government and county government should be asking for a full accounting of where their money went. Where’s the money?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 61 Thumb down 2

  8. slojustice says:

    Additionally, when this is run by the tribune in April it will die another corruption scandal by our government elites.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 49 Thumb down 2

    • tomsquawk says:

      send the complaint direcly to the Secretary of State

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  9. slojustice says:

    I am sure with co-conspirators on the board of supervisors and city council this will lead to no firings or discipline and certainly no halt to funding. But, I smell a large stinking rat.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 73 Thumb down 2

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