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.


  1. Paso_citizen says:

    The answer is so obvious that a blind man in a dark room could see it. If CAPSLO, Family Ties, Ms. Niesen, Dee Torres, Adam Hil, et al are as honest, legal, and above board as they would like us to believe – just put it all on the table and let the facts speak for themselves.

    Call in the fantastic Trib, CCN, and a couple of TV stations. Lay all the notes, 501(c)(3) documents, CAPSLO’s contracts with Family Ties, everything on the table. Let anybody from any of these organizations look at any and all documents and let us all see what is the truth or not. This would be so simple and easy – if some (or many) of the persons named don’t have something to hide.

    The challenge is made – will it be accepted? Most likely not.

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

  2. SuperDave says:

    The idea of Non Profits faking a board is not new. Many shady people have “Charities”underway, with little to no oversight whatsoever. It’s all about collecting cash, not explaining where it goes. This fraud hurts all of the honest charities out there. This case is almost as bad as the phony horse sanctuary in San Miguel. With a CPA husband, the lady running it fleeced Seniors for years, saying the cash went to care for the horses. It all went into their pockets, and the nonexistent board never argued. Huh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 3

    • MaryMalone says:

      Even for corporations formed by Californians, for California businesses, under Nevada’s rather lax regulations, if you live out of Nevada, the corporation’s board of directors has to meet in Nevada at least one time a year for the corporation to stand up to challenge.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. R.Hodin says:

    Good to finally see some sharper focus on the CAPSLO homeless accounts issue. It makes for much more interesting reading, far better than the first “shotgun” article, which left me with more questions than solid answers.

    Here we learn that Family Ties was created on potentially fraudulent pretenses. Now we’re getting somewhere!

    Thanks for digging deeper!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 35 Thumb down 3

  4. MaryMalone says:

    If the other Debra Jett and Jana Hanson state they are not actually members of the Family Ties board, and since Neisen has named herself president AND president of the board of Family Ties (making Neisen the only person running Family Ties), and since Neisen is well aware that she is the only person running Family Ties, I think it means:

    1. Family Ties is not actually a nonprofit, but is a private business.

    2. Neisen knows, and has known, that Family Ties does not qualify as a nonprofit.

    3. Neisen has, nonetheless, filed as a nonprofit, which is tax evasion and fraud.

    4. Neisen almost certainly owes the IRS and State a LOT of back taxes.

    In addition, has Neisen been running the county’s public guardian services in the same fraudulent manner that she runs Family Ties?

    A full IRS audit needs to be run on Family Ties AND on the county’s public guardian services, and Neisen needs to be brought up on charges.

    In addition, the role that Dee Torres played in this fraud needs to be investigated. Either she knew and approved, in which case she should not be in charge of ANYTHING, including homeless services….or she didn’t know, in which case she should be removed from her position for dereliction of oversight duties for a direct subcontractor (Family Ties) which appears to have committed some really nasty crimes.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 2

    • Cindy says:

      The whole thing about a 501(c)(3) is that people who donate to it, get to “WRITE OFF” the donation on their income taxes. They (Family Ties) don’t appear to be a legitimate anything! No legal administrative license, not legally operating corporate wise and not operating legitimately as a 501(c)(3) This is going to be interesting.

      Better yet………How do we all suppose that Niesen got pass the SSA without a license? My guess is that she used her county employee status (operating under a qualified licensed agency) to qualify herself without the SSA realizing that this was a private business, or that FT is not overseen by the county! Oh yes, this will all be very interesting.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 3

      • MaryMalone says:

        What about the grants and other monies from funding sources like the County? Liesen will have to pay back the money, no? With interest.

        As my mother used to say, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  5. kayaknut says:

    Can you imagine all the scurrying around going on at the CAPSLO, Family Ties offices, and with certain county officials and employees….. Plus all the phone calls and emails that are circulating this weekend.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 49 Thumb down 3

    • PaulJones says:

      We know after listening to Dave Congalton on Friday that Adam Hill sure is disseminating plenty of e-mails. Hill is going to get his a$$ sued off big time. That whack job has been given plenty of opportunity to seek help and get on medication. People must be more worried about Price Canyon than they are about having a loose cannon on the BOS. I still can’t believe that guy got re-elected.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 2

    • givemeabreak says:

      People that work in the County Council’s office could CARE LESS about their clients/patients. They do the bare MINIMUM to care for these poor souls. I have witnessed it FIRST HAND. TRULY a group of LAZY, PATHETIC people that are just sucking off the county waiting for pensions.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3

      • givemeabreak says:

        I meant County Public Guardian’s office

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

      • tomsquawk says:

        Sadly, I remember my 1st social work assigment. The “clients” there didn’t appear to want to get a leg up, just the dole; path of least resistance. I think if I had stuck around I would have become one of them waiting for a pension.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 12

        • MaryMalone says:

          Padon, but it sounds like you are trying to blame the victims here for the fraud perpetrated by CAPSLO and Ms. Liesen…as well as the County and its BOS.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

          • tomsquawk says:

            oh no, not at all. i was saying that it was a disappointment to see that people receiving aid were not ususally going to pull themselves out.

            for the care giver, you could start out with high ideas and then get callous and corrupt. or, were you crazy when you applied for the job or did it make you crazy.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

          • obispan says:

            “I blame society” – Sid Viscous

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • obispan says:

      That’s why they “earn” the big bucks, you jealous chump!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. givemeabreak says:

    Lisa Niesen should be fired from the county! But then again given how the county operates, she will probably get a promotion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

    • kayaknut says:

      and don’t forget a big pension for life paid for by the taxpayers

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

      • MaryMalone says:

        If she gets convicted of a crime perpetrated as part of her work duties, she will get ZIP.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • MaryMalone says:

      …and named Employee of the Year.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. JQ Public says:

    Check old Board of Supervisors agendas for contracts between the county and Family Ties. See who signed those contracts for Family Ties. You will probably find what purports to be Jana Hanson’s signature. Maybe also Debra Jett. If those signatures are forgeries, then there are additional potential violations for falsely obtaining a government contract.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 1

    • Cindy says:

      Neisen as the president would have been the only signature that was required to expedite a contract on behalf of Family Ties. But the minutes of the Board of Directors agreeing to the contracts will be interesting! Also the bank would have required signed documents from the board of directors when the account was opened. That will also be interesting.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

      • tomsquawk says:

        A bank SHOULD require a Board resolution with signatures to open an account but I recently saw an account opened without that. Shame on the bank? Need to look at that one. Liability? Maybe.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

    • myword says:

      JQPublic,
      Just a note.

      I believe in one of the first articles in this series Karen pointed out that there was more than one Family Ties in SLO Co. and that the Family Ties in north county says they have no connection with Lisa Niesen, Family Ties.

      So when you investigate the Co. Supervisor minutes it becomes a little blurred because they reference Family Ties Services/Caregiver which I am not sure is the same enterprise.

      Anyway, something to look into but more painful because of the duplicate or similar names. I found a reference in 12/6/11 minutes request & approval of 170K but it was Family Ties Relative Caregiver Program which I think is a totally separate endeavor.

      More will spill out. Look at Watergate – it start with a simple burglary.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  8. wolfhound says:

    Good luck with tracking down “alleged missing funds” in the imperial fiefdom of San Luis Obispo County.

    Just remember what occurred in Los Osos between 1990 & 2000 where the so-called ‘South Bay Community Pool Association’ donated funds of approximately $150,000 simply vanished, and to this date we have no pool, or accounting.

    Even the California Secretary of the State found no such entity and yet the DA refuses to clarify to residents where the money went, calling it a “civil matter” not a crime and even our Sheriffs Department shined it off.

    The problem is that these misdeeds include illegal acts and the lack of action by public servants make a mockery of that title. Such behavior spreads beyond any one-time incident and only serves to color public view of their government and officials.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 0

  9. Paso_citizen says:

    Seems as though CAPSLO is beginning to stink like a room full of angry skunks. And probably also Family Ties. Now my $64K question –

    Why should this take longer than about 1 week to clearly and completely get to the bottom of this?
    Get grand jury involved – subpoena the necessary people – get access to the necessay documents – and determine whom is guilty or not. Why have this carry on for months or years while people that are on the public take have ample opportunity to do massive ‘cover their A-ses’?

    In fact, if the County Board of Supervisors had any chutzpah, they would get on this like ‘white on rice’
    My money says NO.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 2

    • MaryMalone says:

      Perhaps the BOS is part of the fraud? Is Leisen screwing a Supervisor? It seems in SLOCo, not only does the “follow-the-money” adage apply to fraud, but there is an additional adage that applies: “follow the weiner.”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

      • yodaiam says:

        P.S. Everyone that I know that has met Lisa say she believes she is the greatest intimidator! She loves showing her “Officer of the Court Badge”, and trying to scare people.
        Glad they didn’t give her a gun. She is not well.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

      • SLOBIRD says:

        If the information in these series’ are correct about Lisa Nieson, aka Family Ties, I would think her a slum bag and no mercy should be shown her. But be clear, not because she is a lesban, with a partner or adopted child because she is a crook. Just like I think President Obama is a liar, deceitful and a deceivig person because he is, imo, not because he is black or from Chicago (mob capital of the USA).

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

        • yodaiam says:

          My follow through was poor….It is not because she (Lisa) is a lesbian that I more than dislike her. In fact I think her partner is a lovely person. I was just pointing out that she is most likely not “screwing” any one on a government body as was suggested earlier. Lisa is a scumbag professionally though and I am sticking with that. I hope she gets her just rewards. I even hope I am there when it happens, because I do believe “what goes around comes around”.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • givemeabreak says:

        Oh “Mary” I just love you!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1