Three Women Charged in Alleged Scheme to Steal Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Meant for Homeless

California's attorney general says the three women stole public funds by submitting fraudulent referrals and assistance requests for people who were not actually homeless.

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A cyclist rides past a Skid Row sign in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 2021. – The federal judge overseeing attempts to resolve the homeless situation has called for an urgent meeting to discuss worsening conditions and the poor official response. Combined now with the coronaviruspandemic and worsening mental health and substance abuse issues, US District Judge David Carter who toured Skid Row last week likened the situation to “a significant natural disaster in Southern California with no end in sight.” (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Three people have been charged with fraud and embezzlement for an alleged scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds meant to help California's homeless residents, the state's attorney general said Thursday.

Two of the three defendants worked for the Los Angeles-based nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless, or PATH, which in 2016 received a hefty contract from the LA Homeless Services Authority.

The trio stole hundreds of thousands of dollars by submitting fraudulent referrals and assistance requests for people who were not actually homeless, Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.

The defendants, all women in their 40s, face a total of 56 felonies between them. All have entered not-guilty pleas and are due back in court next month, the Los Angeles Times reported.

PATH reported the alleged misconduct to police and cooperated in the investigation, the Times said.

“As an organization dedicated to ending homelessness for individuals, families, and communities, we are appalled that people would take away valuable resources from vulnerable, unhoused people,” the organization said in a statement issued by Tyler Renner, its media director.

Renner said that about $400,000 was taken. He said PATH reimbursed the Homeless Services Authority and the nonprofit’s insurance company covered some of the loss.