AUSTIN (KXAN) - The husband of Family Connections former director is now jailedin Travis County, charged with money laundering.
According to the arrest affidavit, Marco Aponte, 48, is jailedon the offense of money laundering, a 3rd degree felony. Aponteappeared to be a signatory on a number of accounts that receivedchecks from both Family Connections and the Texas Association ofChild Care Resources. Until recently, Louanne Aponte controlled thechecking accounts of both organizations.
The affidavit details numerous checks Louanne Aponte wrote toherself out of the Texas Association of Child Care Resources andReferral Agencies' account between 2006 and 2010. Aponte continuedto make withdrawals even after being confronted by auditors fromthe Health and Human Services Commission about discrepancies in2009.
Louanne Aponte also issued numerous checks out of the FamilyConnections' account to a company known as Excite and ChallengeEAC. Marco Aponte was a signatory on that company's account,according to the affidavit. No one on the board of FamilyConnections knew of the existence of Excite and Challenge EAC,which appeared to siphone off more than $300,000 in funds fromFamily Connections between 2004 and 2009.
Aponte also served as treasurer for Hyde Park Christian Church'sWorld Outreach fund. In that capacity, she transferred thousands ofdollars out of that account to her own personal bank accountbetween 2006 and 2009.
All told, an analysis of the Apontes' bank account wouldindicate $900,000 of non-payroll deposits were made to thejoint account between 2003 and 2010. Of that amount, about$651,000 could be traced back to Excite and Challenge, as well asTACCRRA, Hyde Park Christian Church and Family Connections.
The Apontes listed their home for sale on March 14. In theaffidavit, the Realtor on the listing said it was her understandingthat Louanne Aponte had gone to Venezuela. Marco Aponte confirmedto investigators that he iis from Venezuela and still has family inthat country.
Tuesday morning, Austin City Council members heard apresentation from the city Auditor that said city officials stillhas no clue how much money may be missing from taxpayers, thoughthey are investigating.
FamilyConnections closed its doors amid criminal charges lodgedagainst its director, Louanne Aponte, who is suspected ofembezzling cash from the family service organization, which formedin 1978.
The charity closed two weeks ago and Aponte is stillmissing.
City of Austin officials say Family Connections received $15.2million from 1990 to 2010. Assistant City Auditor JasonHadavi said his office only has documents from the charity back to2006 to conduct the investigation.
Aponte has been nowhere to be found, but she has two arrestwarrants and prosecutors expect to file more charges.
Prosecutors have seized her Southwest Austin Circle C home,accusing her of using the charity's money to pay her mortgage.
The agency received about $960,000 in state funds between 2006and 2010. According to auditors, Aponte submitted falsedocuments.
Formed by a merger in 2004, the non-profit Family Connectionsand its partners have been providing help to children and parentsin need across ten central Texas counties for the past 25years.
In addition to providing books and toys, the group offereddozens of programs, everything from newborn counseling, to readingprojects, special education needs and teaching parents to be morediligent parents. They hope other organizations can continue theirwork.
About Family Connections
Organization formed in 1978
Info as of last IRS filing in 2008
Louanne Aponte Ex. Dir Salary $88,560
Frances Neely, Business Manager $ 52,499.20
Board of Directors
Vielka Ridley, Chair
Ingrid Gillespie, Vice Chair
Grace Roman, Secretary
Government Grants $1,476,688
Other Contributions $1,134,812
Purpose of organization
To provide education and information to parents, child careprofessionals and the community about the importance and improvingthe quality of early care and experiences of children so they havea strong foundation to be successful in life and ready to learn inschool. Mission is to reduce child abuse and neglect.
# of employees 32
$220,005 for Training – provide information and educationfor child care professionals through classes, mentoring, andone-on-one site visits.
$487,999 Subsidy management – Assist specialpopulations, such as teen parents, low-income, and homeless/nearhomeless parents and survivors of domestic violence to pay forchild care.
$1,844,822 for Resource and Referral – provide earlyeducation information through lending library of toys and books,parenting classes, hospital visits to new moms, child care locatingservice and community education on the importance of early care andeducation.
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