Dixon Slingerland, the former head of the non-profit group Youth Policy Institute Inc. and once one of the top Democratic fundraisers in Los Angeles, pled guilty to embezzlement from the non-profit and filing false tax returns on Tuesday, and is to face 13 years maximum in federal prison.
Slingerland was President and CEO of the Youth Policy Institute from 1996 when he was only 26, until 2019, shortly before it went under. The Institute, which was founded in 1983, had, at it’s peak, around 1,000 employees who offered low-income and disadvantaged LA area residents job training, early childhood education, and other similar services to help bridge the gap between more affluent residents. From 2009 to 2019 when it was dissolved under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the Institute received $281 million in federal grants for their services.
When Slingerland, a New York native and Stanford graduate, took over the institute in 1996, he moved the organization from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles and immediately became one of the leading fundraisers for Democratic causes in the city. He held fundraisers for Democratic candidates ranging from local Mayors to presidential candidates, and was known to be a close fundraising ally to former LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as being such a top fundraiser nationally that he often met former President Barack Obama at the White House when he was President.
However, by the late 2010’s, Slingerland’s time at the Institute was unravelling. Allegations arose that he was not reporting everything on his taxes, with the Institute itself saying that he was taking money from their coffers. By the time he was ousted in 2019, the agency reported that Slingerland had “misspent” $1.7 million in funds and demanded immediate repayment.
Over the next several years, federal investigations found more specific instances of him embezzling money or not reporting taxable income. According to the investigations by the IRS Criminal Investigation team, the FBI, the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the United States Department of Education Office of Inspector General, the United States Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, and the Los Angeles Unified School District, Slingerland either embezzled money from the nonprofit for his personal benefit and intentionally misapplied more than $600,000 in grant money to pay for unauthorized expenses and lying on his tax returns.
“In these [Institute] roles, Slingerland had check-signing authority over YPI’s bank accounts and was the personal guarantor of YPI’s credit card,” said the Department of Justice press release on Tuesday. “From January 2015 to February 2019, Slingerland caused at least $71,533 of YPI funds to be spent on unauthorized expenditures, including Slingerland’s 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 approximately $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 approximately $201,466 in federal grant money to be illegally used to pay off YPI’s credit card bill, including for expenses Slingerland had incurred.”
“Slingerland further admitted in his plea agreement 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 United States Treasury a total of approximately $147,398 in unpaid taxes – not including penalties and interest – for these years.”
Instead of a protracted court battle, Slingerland plead guilty to two counts of conversion and intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal money, and subscribing to a false federal income tax return. According to his legal team, Slingerland “takes responsibility for the mistakes he made in running the nonprofit, for the unreimbursed personal credit card charges, and for his failure to report certain benefits as income on his tax returns. Mr. Slingerland continues to work in the nonprofit sector with a personal mission to continue to improve services and opportunities for children and families in need.”
Slingerland pleads guilty
While some sort of court proceeding over the charges had been expected for some time, his guilty plea nonetheless shook up many Democrats in LA, as many had benefited from his fundraisers in the past.
“Most politicians either in LA or swinging through LA have at least met the guy, if not benefiting from one of his fundraisers directly,” explained a Los Angeles City Hall employee who wished to remain anonymous. “He had a lot of pull, and as you said, he was close to presidents and the Garcetti’s. Ten years ago, he had major pull and could really bring in the money. But now, everyone is avoiding him or distancing themselves from pictures of them at his fundraisers and things. At least a few people in the office had to delete some Facebook posts and things like that because either he was on them or it showed them at his fundraiser.”
“I never met the guy, but I have been in the same room as him, and he had this very weird energy about him. I mean, at the time, he really did seem to care about helping Angelinos move up in life. But now we know he kept taking money from the YPI that could have gone to helping others. He spent $6,000 on a dinner. A family dinner. And paid with it on a non-profit’s dime. Who does that?
“This is really big, and people are still scrambling to distance themselves away from him right now.”
Slingerland is due in court in the next several weeks where he faces a maximum of 13 years in federal prison.
- Bill To Repeal California Cruising Ban Introduced In Assembly - February 7, 2023
- CA Bill To Allow Binational Students In Mexico Receive In-State Tuition Progresses - February 6, 2023
- Controversial SD County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher Announces Run For State Senate In 2024 - February 6, 2023