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.”

Comments (3)
  1. Darlene Billups Anderson says:

    The work that is being done by the Roberts Family Community services center is invaluable to the local community! Reality is that the value of public education is devalued for the local community because there is no oversight of the outcomes for the Black children in Sacramento. How do we keep turning a blind eye to the failure of the of all public alternative programs in Sacramento for Black children. There is little or not benefiting from the public services to transition to adulthood in America for Black children. The impact of the shots fired in the back yard of someone who’s grandchild who had allegedly to have committed a local crime? And somehow we quested the shooting! How was permission sought when they were on camera requesting permission! I have paid attention because of the offer of F.A.P.E. should lead to independence! Not prison! We need oversight but any one who get’s money for activities who are not engaging the public I question! The Roberts Family Development Center was not hiding any thing they could not make the mistake! Let us all understand that the Center has outcomes that the local Community is not producing! And we are watching! ADOS!

  2. John Berchielli says:

    Sounds like a sweet plea deal for Darrell. He keeps 250 k and only pays back 400k on 650K debt on installments. Basically it is like he gets to continue robbing “Peter to pay Paul ” . No wonder California is in such a mess. What lessons are the kids learning from him?

  3. Robla Elementary says:

    Robla School District still pays him upwards of $400,000 each year. The superintendent confirmed last night that the school district will continue to renew contracts even amidst numerous complaints (including complaints lodged previous to this recent resurfacing of the 2017 lawsuit) by staff.

    Darlene – your are conflating known systematic racism and oppression with this one particular instance of a corrupt organization that is not providing what it says it provides. Why don’t you actually ask the families supposedly being served. Then comeback and sing their praises.

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