A former manager at Senior Services nonprofit has been charged in the fraud case that led to the firing or discipline of Seattle city workers.

Share story

A former program manager for the nonprofit organization Senior Services has been charged with stealing $91,000 in a case that led to the firing or discipline of several city of Seattle employees for not adequately investigating complaints of fraud in the city-funded program.

Gregory Townsend, who managed the Kinship Care program for Senior Services, and Arthur Wheeler, III, a friend, each were charged Monday in King County Superior Court with 23 counts of theft.

The men are to be arraigned Feb. 5. If convicted of all charges, they face a sentencing range of from three to five years.

Court charging documents say Townsend authorized payments to a moving and hauling company owned by Wheeler that did not perform any work. Townsend made up the names of clients who requested the work and, when notified the city was looking into fraud allegations, deleted records from the accounts-payable system.

“Most of the people had never heard of the Kinship program and those that did had never requested or received services. The phone numbers were fictitious, disconnected or belonged to someone else,” according to a Seattle police report. Senior Services’ own investigation could not find “a single legitimate recipient from the check distribution list,” the police report concluded.

Townsend was fired in April after Senior Services uncovered evidence that he was the only one to have dealings with A & F Quality Services and that he picked up the checks personally.

The police investigation found Wheeler registered A & F Quality Services with the state as a sole proprietorship in 2006, but the registration lapsed because no tax returns were filed.

No city employees were implicated in the alleged theft, but four were disciplined for failing to handle more aggressively an anonymous tip to the city Human Services Department. The former director of Aging and Disability Services, Pam Piering, was placed on administrative leave in May and was recommended for termination, but retired in July.

Ginny Adams, a senior grants and contracts specialist, gave Townsend advance notice that there had been a fraud allegation and that she would be examining invoices and spending, according to an independent city investigation. She was terminated in September.

The Kinship Caregiver program, which provided support to seniors who had sudden responsibility for their grandchildren, is now being managed by Catholic Community Services. The city has taken over the distribution of funds to caregivers.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @lthompsontimes.