Manager behind $684,000 Catholic Charities fraud sentenced

The former manager of Catholic Charities was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Monday after she was convicted of defrauding the nonprofit of more than $684,000 over seven years.

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald announced the sentencing of Clarissa Combs, 49, of Brooklyn Park Monday after she pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making a false statement on Dec. 4, 2019. Combs was the former program manager of Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities provides housing and other services to people experiencing homelessness.

A total of 12 defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced for their roles in the fraud, too. Nine of them received between two and three years of probation and three others will serve time ranging between six and 24 months.

The scheme spanned seven years between April 2012 and February 2019. In it, Combs recruited other employees, family and friends to pose as landlords and fake homeless clients in order to defraud the charity.

 “Ms. Combs orchestrated a years-long fraud scheme that diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from some of the most vulnerable members of society, including individuals and families in need of housing. I applaud the work of our investigative partners in bringing this conspiracy to justice,” said MacDonald.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office added that Combs made false statements to FBI agents, the inspector general and a U.S. Postal Inspector.

Along with her sentence, the court ordered that she pay restitution in the amount of $684,081.90.