CALIFORNIA—The Los Angeles Police Department’s Commercial Crimes Division (CCD), announced that charges were filed against three individuals for crimes of Grant Theft and Embezzlement of public funds. The defendants worked in tandem to defraud and betray the trust of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) to take funds and embezzle public monies designated for homeless assistance. PATH is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end homelessness.
The LAPD reported that between January and September 2017, the defendants submitted multiple fraudulent referrals and assistance requests to PATH for persons they knew were not homeless and were ineligible for PATH assistance. They received PATH funds that were made payable to entities controlled by the defendants, as the landlord to be paid. The defendants used those funds for their own personal purposes or diverted the funds to their associates.
The Attorney General’s Office and California Department of Justice is prosecuting the case, which occurred in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. On September 9, 2021, the Attorney General’s Office filed a 56-count felony complaint involving charges of Grand Theft (Penal Code § 487(a)(b)(3)) and Embezzlement (Penal Code § 504 PC, against Defendants LaToi Allena Pledger, Sareena LaFawn Denise Stevenson, and Valencia Nicole Stevenson.
“By helping families secure a roof over their heads, tax-payer funded programs like PATH provide Californians in need with an invaluable resource,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “When these programs are taken advantage of or stolen from, the individuals and families who depend on them are the most harmed. We are grateful to the Los Angeles Police Department for their investigation and continued partnership in this matter.”
“This was a very lengthy and complex investigation,” said LAPD Captain Lillian Carranza. “We are very proud of the work done by our Commercial Crimes Detectives. This case could not have been brought to fruition without their work ethics, tenacity, and commitment to duty. The victims of these crimes deserve justice and due process. We are tremendously grateful to Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Special Prosecutions Section of the California Department of Justice for their partnership and support.”
Arrest warrants were issued for all defendants with the following bail amounts:
Anyone who has been a victim or have details about this investigation is asked to contact Detective III Manuel Segura at (213) 486-6620. Anyone with information regarding related crimes are asked to contact Commercial Crimes Detectives at (213) 486-6620. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).
Anyone wanting to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters can visit www.lapdonline.org and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the “Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to submit an online tip. Tipsters may also download the “P-3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.