Former CEO of Veteran's Assistance Agency Gets 85 Days In the Slammer

The former head of a Liberty City non-profit agency that assisted veterans will spend 85 days in jail for stealing taxpayer money meant to help vets get back on their feet. Last week, 60-year-old Charles Leon Cutler was sentenced following his conviction in March on two counts of grand theft. The former chief executive of Veteran's Employment Transition Services, Inc., aka VETS, will also serve four years of probation and pay pack restitution to Miami-Dade County.

An investigation by the Miami-Dade Inspector General's Office discovered Cutler pocketed $6,000 from a $100,000 county grant VETS received through the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency in 2007. Most of the money was used to create a hospitality training program at the Greater Bethel AME Community Church. The CRA later transferred management of the contract to Miami-Dade College.

Cutler was supposed to return what was left of the grant. Instead, he wrote $4,000 in checks from the grant account, and more than $2,000 to friends and family, according to a Miami-Dade Inspector General report. He disguised the payouts as project expenses, prosecutors said.

The ex-CEO tried to cover up the theft when investigators began sniffing around. He diverted more than $6,000 from a separate county grant to help pay back the stolen money, according to the Miami-Dade Inspector General.

Cutler is awaiting trial in another taxpayer scam in which he allegedly stole $13,000 in county grant money to fund a veterans summit in 2008 that never happened. His organization, VETS, no longer exists.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.