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Ex-San Francisco nonprofit director indicted on wire fraud

A pair of handcuffs on a wooden surface.
A Vallejo woman was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged Wednesday with four counts of wire fraud. | Source: Bernd Wüstneck/Picture alliance via Getty Images

A former San Francisco nonprofit leader was accused by a federal grand jury of embezzling more than a quarter million dollars from a youth services organization, authorities announced Wednesday.

Athena Harven, 53, of Vallejo, worked from 2015 through 2018 at the nonprofit Together, United, Recommitted, Forever (TURF) providing academic support and job training to students in Sunnydale and Visitacion Valley. The organization received funding from San Francisco and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other agencies.

The federal indictment accuses Harven of diverting 119 checks earmarked for the nonprofit's payroll taxes into her own accounts to enrich herself.

Prosecutors say Harven spent the money at a slew of clothing stores including Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, VIP Luggage & Leather, H&M and Hollister while also paying for vacations, casinos and rent for her bakery business.

As a result, according to the indictment, the nonprofit failed to file payroll taxes from April 2015 until it shuttered for good in December 2018.

By the time the nonprofit closed, authorities estimated the amount the organization owed in payroll taxes "closely approximated" the $256,771.84 Harven allegedly embezzled.

Harven was released on her own recognizance after an initial court appearance Wednesday and is expected in court again on Aug. 30.

Joel Umanzor can be reached at jumanzor@sfstandard.com