The accused, Nanette Sheree Dillard and Paul Daniels -- a wife and husband team -- were senior administrators for the Associated Community Action Program, or ACAP.
ACAP was a grant-dispensing agency, taking in federal and other funds, and doling them out to local non-profits, according to San Leandro City Councilwoman Diana Souza, who had represented San Leandro on the agency's 13-member board.
The guilt or innocence of the accused is now up to the legal system. But how this obscure agency fell into disrepute is a parable of concern to taxpayers.
"It's like when you have a heart attack, you look back," Souza said.
She offered this account of ACAP's fall from the vantage of the five years she served on its governing board -- including being the chairperson who shut it down.
For years ACAP had cruised along, taking in about $500,000 a year in funds from higher levels of government and funneling them out through a grant application process. It was overseen by a 13-member board including participating cities like San Leandro.
When the Obama stimulus plan went into effect the agency's incoming funds ballooned to about $2.5 million over a three-year period and ACAP began channeling money into projects like helping parolees find work, Souza said.
But despite the fact that there was more money flowing through the agency Souza said that, in retrospect, there were signs that something was amiss.
For instance, she remembers getting calls from vendors saying they hadn't been paid for services. Souza said that Dillard, the agency's former executive director assured board members that everything was fine.
Things came to a head about a year ago when a group of ACAP employees came before the governing board and complained in public about the agency's leadership, Souza said.
Once they took a hard look, Souza said board members discovered "there wasn't any money in the bank, that we couldn't cover payroll."
So ACAP's board put Dillard on administrative leave and dissolved the agency.
Souza recalled going back to ACAP's headquarters in Hayward a few days after that showdown board meeting. She found Dillard's office cleared out. At that point the Hayward police were called in to investigate.
That was a year ago.
At the time, East Bay Citizen writer Steven Tavares criticized the haphazard attendance of ACAP's oversight board -- though it should be noted that Souza was one of only four members with a perfect record in his report.
Did it matter that the two accused former executives, Dillard and Daniels were married?
Souza said there was nothing in county administrative procedure to prevent the couple from working at ACAP. Dillard was executive director. Daniels ran grant programs and reported to a deputy director, not directly to his wife, she said.
Souza summed up the episode this way: "I look at it as a wakeup call to anyone who serves on a board. This is an example of bad things happening to a good agency."
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