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Ex-Granite Falls police chief sentenced for scamming disabled people

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By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer
SEATTLE -- A former longtime Granite Falls police chief was sentenced on Friday to five years in prison for a scam that bilked more than $625,000 from developmentally disabled people.
Charles Allen, 52, of Lake Stevens, used other people's Social Security benefits to pay his own expenses, including gambling debts and alimony, federal prosecutors alleged. Allen did it under the guise of helping clients who didn't have anyone else to manage their financial affairs.
Allen in 2005 took over for his mother as director of People Helping People, a nonprofit organization that collected Social Security payments for disabled people to make sure their bills were paid. The clients didn't have family or close friends who could provide the help so they turned to Allen, prosecutors said.
Instead of paying people's rent or utility bills, Allen pocketed the money for himself and others in his family. He even paid his mother a salary for years after she retired, according to investigators.
"This was a cynical and cruel scheme. Mr. Allen swindled and exploited people who most needed help. Under the phony name 'People Helping People,' Allen helped only himself," U.S. District Attorney Jenny Durkan said.
Victims said that even before Allen suddenly closed down his business, he left them in a bind. One man said he lost all of his possessions in a storage unit because Allen failed to pay the rent. There were photos of his children in the locker.
"How do you put a price on that?" John Dale asked at Friday's sentencing.
Allen on Friday was ordered to pay $625,666 in restitution.
He served as the Granite Falls police chief for 22 years before retiring in 2005.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;
Story tags » Granite FallsFraudPunishment

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