SAN JOSE -- A Hawaii woman is expected to serve four years in prison this week after admitting to bilking more than $400,000 from a Milpitas-based nonprofit that provides affordable housing for the disadvantaged, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.

Theo Lani Bell, 62, pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft, two counts of tax fraud, along with a white-collar "excessive taking" enhancement." She will be formally sentenced July 9.

According to prosecutors, over a five-year span she falsified repair orders for an Oakland homeless shelter and pocketed the money reimbursed to her by Housing for Independent People, a nonprofit headquartered in Milpitas. The agency serves the developmentally disabled, people with AIDS and the elderly.

Bell submitted fake repair orders for the building and phony materials purchases from a hardware store. The ploy unraveled in 2009 when another staffer evaluated the building and deemed the "repairs" unnecessary and learned the hardware store had never done business with her.

She was arrested in Hawaii and brought to Santa Clara County for prosecution following an investigation by the District Attorney's Office and the California Franchise Tax Board.



Advertisement