A husband and wife have been charged with embezzling $460,000 from a taxpayer-funded nonprofit agency hired by Los Angeles County to help abused and neglected foster children, the district attorney’s office announced Thursday.
The couple were arrested at their home in Banning on Thursday. They face a total of 22 counts of misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement.
A county audit three years ago concluded that CSJ Kidogo, executive director of the nonprofit Little People’s World, and his wife, Hitaji Kidogo, assistant executive director, used public money to purchase personal real estate, pay personal loans and collect exorbitant salaries.
Officials with the county’s Department of Children and Family Services have declined in recent weeks to answer questions about Little People’s World, and it’s unclear why it continued as a contractor after the audit report. According to the district attorney, the misuse of funds began in 2008 and continued into 2013.
Little People’s World operates four group homes in Los Angeles and Riverside counties that typically care for a total of 28 children. In recent weeks, social workers began to remove children from the agency’s care.
“Money intended to care for children in foster homes instead lined the pockets of the executives who ran the programs,” said Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, adding that Little People’s World would close soon.
Both defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on Monday. Prosecutors said they will ask that their bail be set at $550,000 each.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 14 years in state prison.