Crumbling finances, investigation and audit may have prompted suicide

March 26, 2003
By Rick Ross

It appears that the walls were closing in on Alfonso Acampora, shortly before he committed suicide this past week in a hotel room.

Walden House, the organization Acampora headed, was being investigated by the California state attorney general regarding its finances. That probe was launched six months ago and is still ongoing.

Allegations made by a former Walden House board member included gross fiscal mismanagement and padding the payroll with family members. This included Acampora's ex-wife, daughter, son, son-in-law and other relatives.

Walden House was also apparently billed for lavish perks.

Acampora received $150,000 annually in perks and benefits, in addition to his $188,000 yearly salary.

California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer and his 10-member investigation team were apparently closing in on Acampora. He said, "It's a matter of looking at thousands and thousands of pages of documents."

The annual budget at Walden House was $54 million and much of that came from public sources. But despite the steady stream of taxpayer dollars coming in Walden House borrowed $350,000 this summer to make its payroll.

Despite the shortfall Acampora kept living the good life in an expensive filled with luxuries.

However, it all seemed to coming down around him. Recently the City of San Francisco was making tough demands after a lengthy audit. And they wanted to see Walden House bank statements.

According to one staff member Acampora feared he might be ousted. He told the employee, "He would sooner die than turn over Walden House to anybody else."

It looks like he meant what he said.

Note: This article was largely based upon "Walden House accused of financial mismanagement," by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, San Francisco Chronicle March 25, 2003

Copyright © 2003 Rick Ross.

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