The CEO of an LA-based non-profit that operates clinics in Anaheim and Stantion paid himself hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in taxpayer money that was intended to fund the clinics, according to a report posted on the website AccountableCalifornia.org, which is a project of SEIU Local 721.
90 percent of Central City Community Health Center's annual budget of $7 million comes from taxpayers, the report states. Dr. Gilbert Varela, the CEO in question, also runs two private medical practices. Claiming to be owed an unspecified amount of money by the non-profit chain he operates, Varela has allegedly funneled cash to his private business accounts for the past several years--surreptitious transactions of sometimes half a million dollars per year that alarmed his accountant, John Soto.
When Soto confronted Varela about the transactions, Varela allegedly fired him, which prompted Soto to sue Varela and accuse him of concealing the apparent slush fund. The report also states that Varela routinely used the non-profit clinics to serve his own private patients, and gave them priority over the low-income patients of the clinic.
You can read more about Varela here. Meanwhile, Accountable California says there's more to come. Part 2 of their expose will show how the CEO stacked the charity's board with friends and family members.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is managing editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).