Perp Walk: Former NPO Leader To Plead Guilty

The former leader of an anti-poverty nonprofit in Hollywood, California that closed after hundreds of thousands of dollars went missing faces a decade or more in federal prison. Dixon Slingerland, agreed to plead guilty to embezzling and failing to pay taxes on more than $600,000 he stole from the organization he led for more than two decades.

Slingerland, who spent 23 years as president and CEO of the Youth Policy Institute before being fired in September 2019, will enter the plea when he makes his initial appearance in federal court in the coming weeks, according to an announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Slingerland, 53, of Studio City, allegedly used $400,000 of a federal grant the organization received in July 2019 toward unauthorized payroll expenditures for himself. He allegedly used an additional $200,000 to pay off an organizational credit card bill he racked up from personal expenses he incurred on it.

He allegedly stole an additional $71,533 between January 2015 and February 2019 for other personal expenses including a $6,000 family dinner at a New York City restaurant, a $14,000 property tax bill, $11,000 in private tutoring expenses for a family member, and $2,000 for a home computer and software.

Slingerland also is accused of failing to pay $147,398 in federal taxes, excluding penalties and interest, as a result of his failure to report the income on his federal tax returns. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison on the embezzlement count and three years on the tax count, according to prosecutors.

The embezzlement was discovered in September 2019 after the U.S. Department of Education demanded the return of nearly $6 million in grants for tutoring and after-school programs in some of the highest-need neighborhoods in Los Angeles that the organization allegedly failed to deliver on, resulting in Slingerland’s termination that same month.

An audit in October 2019 uncovered a systemic pattern of lax oversight, inaccurate financial reports, and a budgetary shortfall that forced the board of directors to close the decades-old nonprofit’s doors at the end of the month and transfer its remaining programs to other organizations, according to prosecutors.

Slingerland’s official reported salary was $394,229 according to the Youth Policy Institute’s federal Form 990 for the year 2018, his last full year of employment with the organization before being terminated.

The organization’s total reported revenue for 2018 was approximately $46.9 million with a total budget of $47.5 million, according to data on the form.

Prior to closing, the Youth Policy Institute had been held up for many years by civic leaders as a model nonprofit for its education, youth development, job training, health and safety programs, tax preparation services, and other work with low-income families.

The organization received tens of millions of dollars in grants under the Obama Administration and was also frequently praised by then-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who often appeared at the group’s fundraisers.

Its closure reportedly eliminated nearly 1,000 jobs and left a number of services it had long provided to many of the city’s neediest residents in doubt.