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Feds Say Man Stole $1.5M From Head Start

MANHATTAN (CN) - The director of two nonprofits embezzled $1.5 million in Head Start money for himself and his girlfriends, federal prosecutors say. Hugh Blackburn allegedly swiped the money from Head Start programs at St. Albans and La Peninsula Community Organization.

Blackburn, 51, of the Bronx, was deputy director of La Peninsula, in the Bronx, from 1989 to 1986, and of St. Albans, in Queens, from 1999 to 2007. He had power to pay expenses.

He is charged with embezzling the money by authorizing payments to DACO Sales & Service and DSA Enterprises, both of them his own shell companies.

DACO is owned by his "Girlfriend 1," the mother of two of his children, who withdrew money from its account to pay for Blackburn's personal expenses, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

St. Albans allegedly paid DACO more than $400,000 and La Peninsula paid it almost $200,000.

La Peninsula allegedly paid more than $850,000 to DSA, which was registered in Blackburn's name, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Blackburn allegedly took $211,000 in checks to himself, $50,000 in checks to cash, $300,000 in checks to American Express and other credit card companies, $11,000 for his wife, and $54,450 "to another woman who is the mother of one of Blackburn's children," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Blackburn faces as much as 50 years in prison if convicted of mail fraud, money laundering and embezzlement. Head Start money is supposed to be used for poor families.

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