Trio of women scammed funds meant for L.A. homeless: police

Trio arrested and charged
From left to right: LaToi Pledge, Sareena Stevenson and Valencia Stevenson. On Oct. 21 L.A. Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the trio was charged with grand theft and embezzlement for stealing more than 100,000 from a nonprofit geared toward ending homelessness. Photo credit Los Angeles Police Department.

Police arrested three women they said embezzled money from a Los Angeles homeless assistance program, California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office announced Thursday.

The LAPD charged three women — LaToi Pledge, Sareena Stevenson, and Valencia Stevenson — with grand theft, embezzlement, and aggravated white-collar crime. Investigators said the trio took more than $100,000 from the “People Assisting The Homeless” (PATH) nonprofit in L.A. by filing multiple, false need-based applications in 2017.

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Two of the accused women were employed by the PATH charity, Bonta’s office said, which works to connect families in need with affordable housing and other services.

Prosecutors said from January to September of 2017, the women submitted fraudulent referrals and assistance requests for people who were not unhoused.

“These clients included their associates, friends and families, whose identities they manipulated through forged and falsified materials such as leases and income documents,” Bonta explained.

The state Attorney General’s office and the LAPD’s commercial crimes unit coordinated the investigation.

All three women were arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court and are being held on $1,055,000 bail.