Sacramento community activist promises to repay $400,000 in settlement

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- A now-settled 2017 lawsuit claims a community activist paid a $5,116.17 tab at a Sacramento restaurant using public funds.

State investigators say community activist Derrell Roberts and others ran up the tab in a single sitting at Ella Dining Room and Bar, which is in downtown Sacramento’s The Kay District. A now-settled 2017 lawsuit indicates Roberts footed the bill with public funds.

The lawsuit indicates the public funds had been earmarked to pay for migrant farmworker housing through the Roberts Family Development Center. Instead, Roberts is accused of pocketing it and overcharging them for rent.

He admitted no guilt in the settlement but did make a promise to repay the state $400,000.

FOX40 reached out to Roberts at his nonprofit organization on Darina Avenue but he declined to comment.

Roberts says word of the settlement is just now spreading because some factions want a new way to attack an upcoming measure on the March ballot. He has been at the forefront of the fight for Measure G, which would give youth service groups, like his center, $12 million of city money.

The money would be diverted from police, fire and park department funds.

There’s a sentiment, however, that there’s not enough accountability built into the initiatives. And people worry that what Roberts was accused of could happen with the city’s money.

“Measure G has an accountability piece at regular evaluations yearly, regular evaluations annually and by the city auditor,” Roberts told FOX40.

Since 2010, the Roberts Family Development Center has received $1.6 million worth of Sacramento’s money, with $550,000 in pending requests – requests now on hold.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg has turned to Roberts various times in an attempt to push initiatives and activities like last year’s pop-up event to combat mall violence.

“We’ve asked the city auditor to take a thorough look at all the contracts Roberts Family Development Center has had with the city to make sure public funds were spent appropriately,” the mayor said in a statement.

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