The son of the prime mover behind an organization that has channeled millions of dollars in public funds into a blighted neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling $117,500 from that agency and a sister nonprofit corporation.
The district attorney's office alleged that Daniel E. Montoya Jr., 33, of Eagle Rock diverted federal funds to his personal use over a three-year period while he served as executive director of the Pico Union Neighborhood Council and as controller of the Pico Union Housing Corp.
Montoya's father was instrumental in founding the council in 1968, according to Terry Timmins, its current executive director. The $13-million, 180-unit Vista Montoya condominium project at 1425 West 12th St. is named for him.
Son Takes Over
When Daniel Montoya Sr. died of a stroke in 1980 at the age of 50, the son was hired to run the agency, Timmins said.
"It's tragic," Timmins said, in commenting on the younger Montoya's case. "Anyone familiar with the family and how much good they've done for the community would agree."
Over the last 15 years, the neighborhood council has sponsored $50-million worth of low- and moderate-income housing in the Pico Union area, southwest of downtown, and has also been involved in job training, child care, food distribution to the needy and the establishment of vest-pocket parks, Timmins said.
He said the housing corporation, which serves as a holding company for the properties while they are being developed, was originally a subsidiary of the neighborhood council but that Montoya Jr. had the bylaws changed to make the two organizations independent.
The misappropriation of funds was uncovered in October, 1984, after officials questioned the disappearance of money intended for a job-training program and "demanded an accounting," Timmins said. Montoya resigned the following month.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Frederick G. Stewart said Montoya actually embezzled $400,000 from the two agencies but repaid all but the $117,500. After charges were filed, he returned another $13,000 to the agencies, Stewart said.
Under an agreement worked out with prosecutors, Montoya, who pleaded guilty in Los Angeles Municipal Court to one count of grand theft, will be placed on five years' probation when he is sentenced on Oct. 7. If he does not make restitution within that period, he could be subject to as many as three years in prison, Stewart said.