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San Antonio Nonprofit Didn’t Vet Embezzling Accountant

By Michael Klazema on 1/17/2018
A San Antonio nonprofit organization is in the headlines due to a major embezzlement case. The NPO, called Centro San Antonio, hired a staff accountant in 2014 who allegedly stole nearly $300,000. Centro is an organization dedicated to furthering the development of a “vibrant and prosperous downtown that benefits the entire San Antonio community.”

Per a report from My San Antonio, Centro admitted it did not conduct a background check on Alicia Henderson before hiring her for a bookkeeping position in 2014. Based on the My San Antonio article, Henderson’s hiring was controversial from the beginning. The accountant was originally an employee of Keys Bookkeeping, an agency that had been helping Centro with its books. Keys Bookkeeping hired Henderson after she responded to a Craigslist job posting in 2014, later assigning her to the Centro San Antonio account.

One month later, coverage explains, Centro severed ties with Keys Bookkeeping and hired Henderson as a full-time employee. Kyle Edwards, the husband of Keys Bookkeeping owner Keyona Edwards, said Centro “hired [Henderson] out from under us” and called the entire situation “shady.” Centro’s attorney says there was nothing malicious about the hire as giving Henderson a full-time position was simply cheaper for the NPO than continuing to work with Keys.

Reports allege the complex circumstances surrounding her hiring may have led to her background check being overlooked. Keys Bookkeeping usually runs background checks on its employees, administrators confirm, but Edwards noted Henderson worked for the company for such a short time that hers may never have been processed. Centro San Antonio did not run a background check before changing Henderson’s status from temp to full-time employee.

If Centro or Keys had vetted Henderson, they would have found a criminal record, reports note: in 1997, Henderson was charged with felony bank fraud. She pleaded guilty. Her record shows two charges for theft by check, but those charges did not lead to convictions.

Per coverage, in 2013, she declared bankruptcy. Henderson’s property records show she was struggling to pay her mortgage and was trying to avoid foreclosure. Henderson’s salary with Centro was $57,000, primarily funded by taxpayer dollars.

Henderson ultimately orchestrated an elaborate fraud scheme involving a bogus 2015/16 audit, according to allegations. The fraudulent audit temporarily hid Henderson’s illegal activities from both Centro San Antonio leadership and city management officials. When Centro discovered the audit had been faked, it launched an investigation. Henderson has since been accused of embezzling $291,000 from the nonprofit. The scandal led to the resignation of Centro President and CEO Pat DiGiovanni. DiGiovanni was not linked with Henderson’s fraudulent activity, but the Centro board believed it was “in the best interest” of the NPO for him to resign.



Sources:

My San Antonio real estate news article
http://centrosanantonio.org/
http://tpr.org/post/centro-san-antonio-staffer-under-investigation-embezzlement-longtime-ceo-resigns


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