At the Oct. 10, 2019 City Council meeting, the City announced that a criminal investigation into the actions of former City employees and the Des Moines Legacy Foundation had been completed.

The city accused the Legacy Foundation of misappropriating funds intended for the city, and that city employees who were Legacy members had deleted and removed documents and files.

This case has created a major rift amongst longtime residents and Legacy members against city management.

Here’s more from an announcement from the city:

“This criminal investigation was initiated in Nov., 2018, following a report by the independent forensic accounting firm Alvarez and Marsal, which found that donations intended for the City of Des Moines had been misappropriated to the Des Moines Legacy Foundation.

“The November report also found that public documents and electronic files relevant to the City’s involvement with the Foundation had been deleted and removed from City buildings in the days after the firm was hired.

“The City referred the matter to an outside law enforcement agency who conducted an investigation. A King County Superior Court Judge issued a sealed search warrant in February of 2019, finding that probable cause existed to believe that the crime of Theft in the First Degree had been committed. The search warrant allowed investigators access to all bank records of the Legacy Foundation. After completing the investigation, the case was referred to a Special Prosecutor to review the matter for criminal charges. Although criminal activity did occur, the Special Prosecutor found that based on the information available, there was not sufficient evidence to link specific individuals to the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The City, as legally required by the State Auditor’s Office, continues to seek restitution for approximately $94,000 in public funds from the Legacy Foundation.

“All City involvement with the Des Moines Legacy Foundation has been suspended pending the recovery of public funds.

“A link to the full public presentation can be found here:

http://www.desmoineswa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4717/Investigation-update10-2019

The findings of the investigation were:

  • Although probable cause exists to believe crimes were committed, evidentiary issues would make proving charges ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ difficult.
  • Therefore, the Special Prosecutor has not recommended criminal charges be filed at this time.
  • Based on information currently available, criminal probe is now closed.

Additional actions from the report:

  • City is actively working with the State Auditor’s Office to close out this matter.
  • State Auditor requires restitution from DMLF of City funds in the amount of $94,000.
  • City has been in contact with attorney for DMLF and is awaiting a response.
  • State Auditor requires the City take all action necessary to ensure that diverted funds are recovered.
  • City’s expectation is that restitution will be received and donations will be used for their intended purposes.
  • Until restitution has been received, City has suspended all involvement with the Legacy Foundation.
  • City looks forward to resolving this matter and moving forward for the benefit of the community.

When reached for reaction, Des Moines Legacy Foundation Board member (and longtime local lawyer) Brian Snure said this to The Waterland Blog:

“We categorically deny the allegations and insinuations and will provide a full response next week.“