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Police Investigate Austin Christmas Bureau; Operation Blue Santa Takes Over
A criminal investigation is underway into a longtime Austin non-profit. Shon Washington, the President of the Christmas Bureau, has gone MIA. Presents and donations are unaccounted for and the Austin Police Department is now calling for help.
“We're in a tough spot. The Christmas Bureau has been there and for some reason something is going on,” says Chief Art Acevedo, Austin Police Department.
For years the bureau has teamed up with Operation Blue Santa to provide presents for less fortunate families. Weeks before distribution, Washington is nowhere to be found.
"We are launching an investigation,” says Chief Acevedo.
At first Washington told Police he was overseas, then in Killeen. We tried calling the contact number on the Christmas Bureau’s website and it's been disconnected.
As for Washington, a former president of the bureau says she found him on Craigslist, saying he used to work construction around her home. He became a volunteer at the Christmas Bureau and worked his way up to President in 2010.
Former board members of the Christmas Bureau are shocked this has happened.
“It’s a legacy I’d hate to see lost,” says Huddie Murray, former board member.
People who know Washington say the investigation is nothing new.
“He’s an ex con, heard it from him mouth.
A former neighbor tells KEYE TV he has had run-ins with Washington in the past.
“He ripped this guy off, he ripped me off for fixing his car, and there was people coming all the time looking for him for money.”a
Operation Blue Santa's goal this year is to collect enough presents for 15,000 people, but now they have to take on the Christmas Bureau's additional 6,000 individuals.
There's still time to turn this unfortunate situation around. Police advise the public not to donate to the bureau's Paypal account which is still up and running. Instead, checks can be written to an account at Wellsfargo -- Christmas Bureau in c/o Operation Blue Santa.
"The bottom line is they're not going to deliver. We are going to deliver and we need the help from this community,” says Chief Acevedo.
Former board directors for the Christmas Bureau have stepped up to manage the non-profit through the holiday season. Police are working with the Attorney General's office to see if any donations have been misplaced.