Former homeless shelter director charged in theft

Kyle Hopkins

The former director of Brother Francis Shelter has been charged with stealing $9,200 from the busy Anchorage homeless shelter at Christmas time.

A District Court judge on Jan. 29 issued a warrant for the arrest of Steven D. Sparks, 60. Catholic Social Services had hired Sparks, who is accused of felony theft, in late October to run day-to-day operations at the shelter.

As director, Sparks had access to two safes meant to safeguard cash for the homeless people who stay there, according to the complaint.

Sparks met with a Catholic Social Services employee on the morning of Dec. 24 and made plans to meet again later in the day to prepare for Christmas services, the charges say. He never showed for the afternoon meeting, but returned to the shelter after work hours each of the following two nights, charges say.

Security footage showed Sparks opening the safes and removing the lockboxes over the two consecutive evenings.

A case manager for the shelter opened one of the safes on Dec. 27. The cash had disappeared, the charges say.

Sparks was fired that day, Catholic Social Services executive director Susan Bomalaski has said.

Sparks hasn't contacted Brother Francis Shelter since, according to an affidavit by Sean Purcell, a detective in the police department's theft division.

Purcell began investigating the case in early January. "I made contact with (Sparks') wife and she told me he had emailed her and told her he was out of state, 'in treatment,'" he wrote in support of the arrest warrant.

Sparks' wife wrote she had become afraid of him over the summer, according to an Aug. 30 filing for a domestic violence restraining order. "I've had to put him out numerous times because he smokes crack and steals my belongings," she wrote.

As of Monday, Sparks had not been arrested on the theft warrant.

Sparks was convicted of felony drug possession in 2002 and served two years of probation in Washington state, according to the Washington Department of Corrections. He was convicted on a felony drug charge in 2007.

Prior to his hire at Brother Francis Shelter, Sparks worked in Anchorage for New Life Development Inc., a nonprofit that operates a housing "re-entry" program for people leaving prison or overcoming addiction.


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