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$1.6M Donation to Youth Center Tied Up in Court

Before she resigned, the former chairwoman of the Pico Youth and Family Center reportedly returned a $1.6 million donation given to the nonprofit by the estate of a Pacific Palisades woman, Peggy Bergmann, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.

The Daily Press reported Friday that money is now tied up in probate court, with the estate's attorney, Santa Monica-based Sonya Sultan, petitioning a judge to allow her to put the $1.6 million check in a separate account to accrue interest while she seeks advice from the state Attorney General’s office on how to proceed.

When the money was awarded, the youth center's Executive Director Oscar de la Torre said it was a "game changer." The nonprofit has been on shaky ground with the city, which provides the majority of the youth center's funding through a social services grant.

The former chairwoman of the organization's advisory board was one of six who resigned late last year because of disagreements with de la Torre.

The Bergmann estate has made several big contributions to Santa Monica institutions in the past several months, including to Santa Monica College and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Click over to the Santa Monica Daily Press to read the full story, "PYFC fights to survive in midst of funding drought."

See also:

  • Another Chance for Pico Youth Center
  • Youth Center Rallies Support as It Faces a 'Major Setback'
  • Youth Center Sinks Deeper Into Hot Water With City
Eddie Greenberg February 09, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Why would the chairwoman return the 1.6 million dollar bequest from the Peggy Bergmann estate? She was resigning and needed not to act on her own. If the PYFC is in a dire financial state, that money would surely have helped them to survive. It is alledged that PYFC has some organizational problems, and these need to be addressed. However I know that some good work is being done there for the kids in that neighborhood. An upsurge in gang violence is the last thing that we need. A more committed board of directors is essential. Sending that money back was a rash act without a thought for the welfare of those kids in need.
David Mendez-Yapkowitz February 09, 2013 at 04:03 AM
That's very true. The former chair's actions were based on selfish motivation and personal vendettas against PYFC staff.
Brenda Barnes February 10, 2013 at 03:37 AM
That is so obvious, David. She needs to be held personally responsible.
Tom hays February 10, 2013 at 09:41 PM
If you read the "reorganization plan" developed by Oscar that was part of the city staff's report (recommending stopping city funding), you will find that Oscar's new hand-picked board adopted a plan that said the board would have no say on how the $1,600,000 was to be spent. That is a complete breakdown in proper governance and it is appropriate that the court and the California Attorney General ( who has jurisdiction over nonprofits) get involved in the handling of the bequest.
Brenda Barnes February 11, 2013 at 06:11 PM
When the Board was picked by the City to take away the non-profit from Mexican-American local control--as is obvious from returning the money rather than working out problems with how to use it--it was pure vindictiveness and not wanting beneficiaries of the donation to run their own lives that caused this, no desire motivated by some greater goal.

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