AUSTIN (KXAN) - The president of the Christmas Bureau of Austin and Travis County, now at the center of an attorney general's investigation and under a judge's restraining order, has a criminal record that dates back nearly 20 years, KXAN has learned.
A background check into Shon Washington shows that he has been convicted at least eight times on theft charges. The record also includes forgery, burglary and credit card abuse.
Such a background check was not done on Washington before he was named head of the holiday charity that historically has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from area residents and businesses.
"Background checks are something that any business or non profits should be doing on any of the people that they're putting into a fiduciary capacity," said Detective Billy Petty of the Austin police white-collar crimes unti who is leading the criminal investigation into Washington and the Christmas Bureau.
On Wednesday, Probate Judge Guy Herman gave the go-ahead for the AG's office to seize the charity's assets. Herman also issued a restraining order against all individuals who had been involved with the embattled holiday charity.
Last week, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said he was opening a criminal investigation, and plans to track every dollar given to the Christmas Bureau after allegations of misconduct and misuse of funds surfaced. Investigators have now found that about $26,000 in donations has passed through the charity's account over the past three months.
But during Wednesday afternoon's court proceedings, the attorney general's office said that those funds were not being used for their intended purpose.
The attorney general went to court to claim that Christmas Bureau officers had breached their statutory fiduciary duties in the operation of the charitable trust. The complaint essentially asserts that they had soliciting tens of thousand of dollars to help needy kids and spent the money on themselves.
Listed as defendants are Washington and his wife Michelle, a director of the non-profit; former President, Clift Bowman and former director, Cynthia Colpaart.
Washington told KXAN last week that he had been gone from the end of October through most of November dealing with the death of his father and was unable to tend to the nonprofit organization. He also said there is less than $100 in the Christmas Bureau account.
He said he was trying to find a location to operate from and get the PayPal account and computers set-up for this Holiday season. He said he was confident he'd be able to get it together by Christmas.
"We are going to make it happen again on the 25th," Washington told KXAN. "Every applicant will be served."
Jerry Strickland of the Attorney General's office said the agency is "looking at the money."
"We're looking to make sure that the website is shut down," he said, "to make sure that people who were giving money were not able to give money. We know there's a Pay Pal account out there right now that is open and active that the individuals who we think have been bleeding these accounts have access to. And we wanted to stop that."
The parties are due back in court in two weeks.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.