Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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Six men accused of embezzlement plead not guilty

Atlanta residents may not be aware of the Po'Ka Project, a federally funded program to help troubled youth from the Blackfeet tribe. Recently, the program's administrators have come under attack for allegedly embezzling money from the project.

Six men were allegedly involved in the embezzlement scheme. All six of them have pleaded not guilty. According to an affidavit by an FBI agent, a project official put over $230,000 in proceeds from the Po'Ka Project into a bank account for the Child Family Advocacy Fund. The government is saying that the money transfer is a kickback. The man asserts that he put the money in that fund to give back to the Blackfeet community, as required by the Po'Ka Project.

The former Po'Ka director and assistant director also had access to the Child Family Advocacy Fund account. The Child Family Advocacy Fund was previously called the Blackfeet Youth Development Fund. It is alleged that once the name was changed, only these two people had access to the account. The government is accusing the men of splitting the funds in the account and transferring their shares to their personal bank accounts. An FBI investigation contends that there is there is a 2009 transaction from the abovementioned business to the Child Family Advocacy Fund as well as records showing that one of the men allegedly took $14,800 of that, and the other took $15,000.

A kickback is a bribe in which businesses or government officials accept something of value, often money, for directing a profitable project to another party. Kickbacks usually occur behind-the-scenes or under-the-table. If convicted of offering or receiving kickbacks the defendant could face severe penalties, like substantial fines, a criminal record and time in jail or prison. Any Atlanta residents facing charges for embezzlement, kickbacks or similar crimes may want to discuss their rights and options with a legal professional who can help defend against the charges.

Source: The Republic, "FBI agent says some money embezzled from Blackfeet youth program spent in casinos," Matt Volz, Aug. 12, 2013

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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