The former president and CEO of a Hollywood-based anti-poverty nonprofit agency pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal criminal charges for embezzling money and intentionally misapplying more than $600,000 in grant money to pay for unauthorized expenses and lying on his tax returns.
Howard Slingerland, 53, of Studio City, entered his plea to charges of conversion and intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal money, and filing a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee set sentencing for July 25, at which time Slingerland will potentially face up to 10 years in federal prison on the conversion count and three years in federal prison on the tax count, prosecutors noted.
From 1996 until he was fired in September 2019, Slingerland was the president and CEO of Youth Policy Institute Inc., a Hollywood-based nonprofit agency that worked to eradicate poverty in some of the highest needs neighborhoods in Los Angeles with a comprehensive approach addressing education, youth development, safety, job training and health and wellness, his plea agreement states.
In these roles, Slingerland had check-signing authority over YPI’s bank accounts and was the personal guarantor of YPI’s credit card.
From January 2015 to February 2019, Slingerland caused at least $71,533 of YPI funds to be spent on unauthorized expenditures, including his personal property tax bill that exceeded $14,000, more than $6,000 for a family dinner at a New York City restaurant, nearly $11,000 for a family member’s tutoring and nearly $2,000 on a home computer and software.
In July 2019, Slingerland caused about $401,561 in funds YPI had received from a federal grant to be used for the unauthorized payment of YPI payroll. That same month, he also caused roughly $201,466 in federal grant money to be illegally used to pay off YPI’s credit card bill, including for expenses Slingerland had incurred, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Slingerland further admitted that he underreported on his individual federal income tax returns more than $100,000 in income each year for the tax years 2015 through 2018 by not reporting money he obtained from YPI including through the embezzlement.
Slingerland admitted to owing the U.S. Treasury a total of about $147,398 in unpaid taxes — not including penalties and interest — for these years.