Former Leaders of Mexican-American Nonprofit Charged with Felony Grand Theft

Executives diverted funds from employees, and face up to three years in jail if convicted.


The former top executives of Santa Clara County's Mexican American Community Services Agency (MACSA) have been charged with felony grand theft for illegally diverting funds from employee retirement accounts, the district
attorney's office announced today.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said at a news conference this morning that the former MACSA chief executive officer, Olivia Soza-Mendiola, and former chief financial officer, Benjamin Tan, knowingly diverted more than $1 million meant for employee retirement accounts.     

Investigations into the organization reportedly began in 2009, after a teacher at Gilroy's El Portal Leadership Academy charter school attempted to access his retirement money, but found the funds missing, a San Jose Mercury News article states. The school shut down shortly after.

The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) conducted an audit of MACSA in April of 2009.

The diverted funds were used to pay for other expenses at MACSA like debts, supplies and salaries, the district attorney said. Arrest warrants have been issued for Soza-Mendiola, 53, of San Jose and Tan, 61, of South San Francisco, Rosen said.

Rosen today called the findings "sad and tragic." "The victims were dedicated, hard-working employees who truly believed in MACSA's mission in the community. Many of them would have donated their own money to help MACSA out, if needed," Deputy District Attorney John Chase said in a statement.

The charges are the culmination of a two-and-a-half year investigation into MACSA, the district attorney said. Prosecutors allege that the theft took place between 2004 and 2009 and that the defendants diverted the funds while knowing that the employees' paycheck stubs falsely showed that the money was being paid to the retirement accounts.

If convicted, they defendants face up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine. They will also be ordered to pay back the amount they took to

—Bay City News


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