From the daily archives: Monday, May 24, 2010

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has filed a lawsuit to shut down the Monterey County AIDS Project and recover more than $2.8 million intended for the benefit of people affected by HIV/AIDS that was illegally diverted to other uses.

Brown said that former officers and directors of the Seaside charity, called MCAP, took some of the money for personal use and for-profit ventures, in violation of state law and a May 2000 court order specifying that at least $1.8 million be used “solely for the purpose of providing housing for people with the HIV disease.” The complaint alleges that another $1 million in other grants and donations was misspent as well.

“The duty of these officers and directors was to protect the charity’s assets so the funds could be used for the support of very sick people,” Brown said. “Instead, they violated their trust and spent the money any way they wanted.”

The Attorney General’s lawsuit, fil! ed Friday in Monterey County Superior Court, seeks to dissolve MCAP, obtain a complete accounting of its finances, and recover any remaining assets dissipated through “the mismanagement and neglect of former officers and members of its board of directors.” Brown also seeks return of assets that were illegally diverted. Sixteen former officers and directors are named.

The complaint describes a scheme in which the MCAP officials, over nearly a decade, drained the organization’s coffers of money earmarked for HIV/AIDS patients.

The organization’s record-keeping was so sloppy and incomplete that it’s hard to determine exactly where all the money went. MCAP continued to provide housing and services for AIDS patients, but at a lesser level than its overall expenditures would suggest.

Some of the charity’s money was spent on unauthorized expenditures, such as meals at expensive restaurants, personal expenses on credit cards, purchasing ite! ms for personal use at auctions, personal moving and storage e! xpenses, a personal mortgage payment, and steam-cleaning a carpet in a private residence.

MCAP was created in 1985 to provide support, resources and services, including housing assistance and hospice care, for HIV/AIDS patients in Seaside, north of Monterey.

Eleven years ago, MCAP received $1.8 million in cash and property from the estate of Douglas E. Madsen, a Monterey County resident, with the restriction that the bequest be used for the sole purpose of housing active AIDS patients.

But, according to Brown’s complaint, more than $2.8 million of charitable assets, including the Madsen money, was “misappropriated, misapplied or wasted.” In 1999, MCAP listed assets of $2.1 million. By 2004, that had dwindled to $1.4 million, and by 2007, only $205,000 was left.

As Attorney General, Brown is the official charged with ensuring that charitable organizations in California spend their money for the purposes specified by th! eir founding documents, internal policies and state law.

MCAP’s filings with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts can be found at http://ag.ca.gov/charities/index.php

The complaint is attached.

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Lukeville Port of Entry arrested two women on separate narcotic smuggling cases in the last few days.

“The officers demonstrate their dedication to the CBP mission through their enforcement efforts,” said Acting Port Director Efrain Solis Jr. “They do great work!”

On May 17, CBP officers processing travelers applying for entry into the United States encountered a 40-year-old woman driving a Ford F-150 truck. The officers during the primary interview noticed discrepancies in the vehicle and escorted the woman into the office.

The vehicle was inspected and found to have approximately 428 pounds of marijuana in the truck bed. The woman was immediately arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On May 18, the second smuggling case occurred when a 42-year-old woman driving a Dodge Durango was found to have 121 pounds of marijuana in her car. Officers noticed her odd behavior and during the search found marijuana packages in the quarter panels and doors of the sport utility vehicle.

The woman, marijuana, and vehicle were turned over to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

 

By Mario Conde

Gabe Salazar speaking to valley students after being evacuated from Rodney Auditorium after earthquake Saturday

The Imperial Valley Regional Occupation Program hosted a youth event at SDSU Calexico this past Saturday for teens and the choices they must make when it comes to situations that could harm their health and education.

High School students from all over the Imperial Valley and students from continuation schools came to Calexico to be educated about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. IVROP’s Project SOBRIO (SOBriety Results In Opportunities) is a grant funded program through the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program to educate and reduce the occurrence and repercussions of underage drinking.

Awarded the grant in 2007, Project SOBRIO has worked with numerous schools in the community to educate and provide opportunities for youth. The program consists of three youth development specialists who work directly with students in participating continuation/alternative education schools.

Project SOBRIO staff use two complimentary forms of curriculum to educate youth of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Project SUCCESS and Project Toward No Drugs were developed by agencies specializing in prevention and working with at risk youth. Project staff present curriculums to students at school sites and incorporate activities that better prepare students for making healthy choices while out in the community.

Project coordinator Gabriel Aguirre said that this event is to empower the youth and making healthy choices about drugs, alcohol, and abstinence.

Students heard dynamic and funny presentation by Gabe Salazar who is a nationally known, professional youth speaker. His message challenges teenagers and encourages them to make positive choices in their lives. Through the use of powerful skits, dynamic insights and real-life illustrations, Gabe’s message inspires and motivates his audience to action. During Salazar’s speech the 5.3 earthquake hit Calexico so students and staff had to evacuate Rodney Auditorium and the keynote had to finish at the quad area. Student later were sent to various workshops at the campus.

 

By Mario Conde

The first ever Firefighters Association Forum took place last Friday as the six candidates for City Council faced the community.

Carlton Hargrave, Guillermo Hermosillo, Martiza Hurtado-Barrons, Bill Hodge, Daniel Chairez, and Ulises Cardenas attended the forum and faces questions mainly about the current financial crisis in Calexico.

Candidate Bill Hodge spoke about his leadership style and said his focus if elected is to talk directly to the people and put those concerns on the City Council agenda since he says those concern are not being considered by the current City Council. “I think what people want in government is someone with character is someone that acts, someone that is proactive and that is who I am. When I believe in something I’m very proactive, I act on it.” Hodge said that he will work to enlist the people of Calexico and persuade them to be vocal and active in the community so they can hold them accountable for their actions and decisions. Hodge said that the City needs to support small businesses and inform them one-on-one about the decision the City makes.

Carlton Hargrave said the City is experiencing challenges from every segment of our community but believes the root cause all the challenges we are facing boils down to one thing and that is a lack of revenue needed to run the City. “I really love the City of Calexico and I think we have much to offer here. There is nothing that Palm Springs has in that area that we don’t have. We have four elements here that we need to grow and expand to bring revenue to our City. We have the weather, we have the workforce, we have the water, and we have the land. We need a focus plan for the future to start bringing businesses and generate income into our city.” Hargrave ended by saying he wants to turn “Only in Calexico” into a positive phrase for the City and when people say it is because the City will offer exciting things and services that other cities in the valley won’t have.

Martiza Hurtado said that she is running in these hard economic times because Calexico needs strong leaders that have the capacity and experience to turn things around. “I believe that my experiences as a long time Calexico resident will help me handle the job as a council member. I understand what it is like to be a parent, a business owner and a volunteer. I believe that in order to be a better council person you must understand the issues that are important to the residents of this City.”She said.

Councilmember Guillermo Hermosillo said that his focus is to work on a better Calexico for future generations and solve the problems that have long affected Calexico. “Calexico is a great City to live in and we can make it better. We can make parks nice for the public, kids, and the community. Somehow we can make Calexico a destination point to where people can stop and come here for a few days.” Hermosillo said.

Candidate Daniel Chairez said that his main goal if elected to City Council is to support the young professionals of Calexico by having proven leaders becoming involved in the development of a new generation of professionals. “We have proven that we are the fastest networking and creative individuals, and prepared with the modern tools for a new future to come.” He said.

Finally, Ulises Cardenas mentioned said his main points in this campaign is to bring jobs, work for more recreational activities for youth and seniors, and look for grants funds for public safety. For Cardenas, it is important for Calexico to bring industrial jobs that stimulate the City’s economy that are well paid so that can bring new sales tax revenue for Calexico. Cardenas supports the idea of having the City hire a grant writer that lobbies for funding for various areas in the City.

 
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