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Youth Foundation Funds Frozen Amid Allegations It Used Taxpayer Money For Personal Expenses

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Funding is being frozen to a prominent Sacramento nonprofit foundation amid allegations that it is using taxpayer money to pay personal expenses.

The Roberts Family Development Center in North Sacramento has been around for nearly two decades, but now questions are swirling around where the money is going.

Darrell Roberts is one of Sacramento's most well-known advocates for kids. He's also the CEO of the Roberts Family Development Center, which offers after-school youth programs and Friday night pop-up events to keep teens out of trouble.

"Young people just need a positive place where they can hang out," Roberts told CBS13 in 2018.

Roberts also won the prestigious FBI Director's Community leadership award for his efforts.

Now that good work is being overshadowed with allegations that the center improperly spent taxpayer money. The controversy stems from a 2017 breach of contract lawsuit filed by the California Department of Housing and Community development.

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That agency hired the Roberts Center to operate three migrant farmworker housing complexes in San Joaquin County, but according to court documents, thousands in state housing money was improperly deposited into the Robert's Center accounts. Bank statements obtained by CBS13 show some expensive personal purchases including more than $7,000 in restaurant meals, $25,000 in tax payments to the IRS, and $1,000 on hotels in Yosemite and Los Angeles.

In total, the lawsuit says the Roberts Center owes the state $650,000. Last fall, Roberts chose to settle out of court, agreeing to pay back $400,000 under a monthly installment plan.

Now, there's new scrutiny. The Roberts Center has also received approximately $1.6 million Sacramento taxpayers. City leaders have now frozen more than a half-million dollars in future funding to the facility, pending an audit of its past expenditures.

Roberts wouldn't comment on camera about the allegations, but they did release a statement saying the center "proudly serves 700 students every day of the week, including the summer months, and not once in the past five years has anyone questioned our quality of service. We have made many community leaders aware of this now resolved dispute with state regulators and have been fully transparent in our discussions of it.... All non-profits should accept this scrutiny."

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