August 29, 2013: The owner and CEO of 15-year-old Family Hope Foster Family Agency, Vivian Lieska Benn, 40, was arrested last night on charges of six counts of embezzlement and one count each of embezzling property by a public official and money laundering. The amount involved is "about $400,000," according to the story by Toni McAllister in the Temecula Patch.
...Benn’s arrest follows a 2009 audit by the Riverside County Auditor-Controller’s Office of the county’s Department of Public Social Services and several foster family groups homes and agencies....
The 2009 audit determined that about $1.2 million in payments made to Family Hope FFA by the county DPSS was unaccounted for...[leading to an investigation that began] in June 2012.
“The DA’s investigation found that, from 2004-2009, Family Hope FFA received millions of dollars of public money from DPSS intended for the care of foster children. It is charged that, from Jan. 1, 2004, and Nov. 16, 2009, Benn embezzled about $400,000 from Family Hope FFA. As the person responsible for the safekeeping and disbursement of these public monies, Benn also is charged with misappropriation of those funds for her personal use,” [according to a press release from the Riverside District Attorney's office].
The investigation also [alleges] that from April 30, 2007 to Sept. 4, 2009, Benn embezzled and misappropriated an additional amount of about $125,000 by transferring those funds into a bank account Benn created called Brooklyn Financial...
“That account was determined to be a ‘shell company’ she created in her daughter’s name to hide money and avoid Internal Revenue Service garnishments,” the news release continued.
The transfer of these funds into the Brooklyn Financial account led to the money laundering charge.