APD investigating the Christmas Bureau, taking over operations - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

APD investigating the Christmas Bureau, taking over operations

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A police investigation is being launched into what is going on with a local holiday charity.

The Christmas Bureau of Austin was created for needy children. But the recent arrest of the charity's president has other organizations scrambling to fill the need.

Shane Williams and his staff spent Thursday moving out of their old Capitol Court office, making room for a new tenant.

The space supposedly is to be the new home for the Austin Christmas Bureau at least that's what charity president Shon Washington has indicated.

Williams says he has not seen Washington at the North Austin building and recently learned what the spot was to be used for.

"We just found out yesterday," said Williams.

Shon Washington was offered the location, according to the property manager, but as of Thursday afternoon a lease agreement had yet to be signed. Transforming it into a donation and processing site to help several thousand children with Christmas less than a month away seems doubtful.

FOX7 recently spoke to Washington by phone. He said the late start this year was caused by a death in the family that took him out of town. The losses of two main contributors who traditionally provide startup funding also cause a problem.

Another problem for Washington may have also caused a distraction.

According to court records, Shon Washington was arrested back in August at a local strip club on a drug possession charge. It was determined the substance he was carrying was crystal meth. Washington later entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The case and other issues are red flags prompting Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo to announce a criminal investigation at the Christmas Bureau will soon get underway.

"Not to say there has been any criminal misconduct but the only way we'll find out is to launch a very thorough exhausted investigation," said Chief Acevedo.

The Christmas Bureau has been providing presents to needy children for more than four decades. But organizational problems recently started to appear about two years ago. Now, Washington claims the bureau has less than $200 in the bank.

"Our recommendation is do not donate to the Christmas Bureau right now," said Chief Acevedo.

Chief Acevedo says managers with Blue Santa will now step in and Wells Fargo bank has set up a new account for donations. The Chief also made a promise and a warning.

"I will tell you Austin Police Department will account for every dollar, Blue Santa will account for every dollar and the Christmas Bureau whether they know it or not will account for every dollar. Either the easy way or the hard way."


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