NBC12 Investigation: Richmond area non-profit

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Parolees needing help re-adjusting after prison thought they'd found total care in a non-profit company called "Changing Minds Community Service". The state prison and the city jail "paid" for ex-cons to go there for help. Now it seems they didn't get any.

Since the C.E.O. of Changing Minds Community Service cannot be found, NBC12 went to the motel where the former inmates are staying, to hear from them. If they're getting treatment, counseling, general care.

There is only one ex-con left at this motel in the program run by 'Changing Minds Community Service'. Other parolees, according the individuals who once worked for the non-profit were pulled out by D.O.C. and Richmond City Jail.

"I don't believe the housing was stable. The substance abuse counselor was definitely qualified but they needed other mental health services which they did not get," said former employee Debra Nilson.

A few just packed up and left like parolee Trena Carter is doing now.

Trena Carter: "I'm getting the hell away from up here."
Diane Walker: "It's that bad?"
Trena Carter: "It's that bad."
Diane Walker: "What drug are you trying to stay off?"
Trena Carter: "Crack cocaine and alcohol."

Here since August, Trena says the non-profit has never given her psychotherapy or medication for her bipolar disorder and manic depression.

"I was not getting any medication from up here and my medicine was sent by my friend from Danville up here in the mail," she said.

Motel manager, Sajid Vohra says there's no parolee supervision or security as called for in his contract with 'Changing Minds Community Service'.

"These tenants have gone out drunk. One of them came back drunk flashed my employee; grabbed him in his crotch area. This is the kind of stuff that's going on," said Vohra. "I'm very concerned for other tenants. I'm also concerned for my business and employees."

The non-profit's elusive C.E.O., Brenda Lee, didn't show for court last Thursday. She's ordered to pay the motel $47,000 for September rent. But no one's seen her.

"She parks off premises and sneaks onto the property. She does not show her face to us at all," Vohra said.

We're sticking with this story until we can show how 'Changing Minds Community Service' spent the money. If you know how we might find the C.E.O., Brenda Lee, send me an e-mail to: dwalker@nbc12.com.

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