UPDATE: Fall Creek woman charged with theft, accused of stealing from charity she founded
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - How was $60,000 raised to help kids in the Chippewa Valley spent over the last few years?
That’s the question investigators have after the founder of a local non-profit is charged with theft.
“A while back we were notified of some possible inconsistencies and problems with the book keeping of a local charity,” says Josh Miller with the Eau Claire Police Department.
In January, the ECPD began investigating the cash flow of Helping Hands for our Children, a non-profit in the Chippewa Valley.
“The investigation showed that About $63,000 was misplaced or mishandled,” Miller says.
Court documents show Shauna Hanson of Fall creek, was charged with theft-false representation after police found tens of thousands of dollars were missing from the organization.
Between June 2017 and May 2020, investigators say Hanson deposited charity funds into her personal bank account with nothing to prove that the money was used for helping hands.
An additional $5,000 was discovered in her husband’s account.
Samantha Osborne, who notified the police department of the alleged theft, began to notice the inconsistencies in the organization in September 2019 when she began collecting donations after a tornado struck the Town of Wheaton.
“I had made a post on my Facebook page that I was helping to collect stuff so I could donate it,” she says. “I had reached out to Shauna saying, hey I have quite a few people that want to donate, what would you like me to do.”
But Osborne says Hanson told her she was not collecting monetary donations.
“I went to her page the next day and noticed a post stating that she was collecting monetary donations for the tornado,” she says.
Hanson’s initial court appearance is set for November 24, but the event has police reminding people to be skeptical of who you donate to during the holiday season.
“Do a little research on that charity, vet it a little bit, maybe just look it up or look up the people that are involved with it and just find out if it is something where everything seems right,” Miller says.
Helpings Hands for our Children in the Chippewa Valley Board Member Jane Fisher says, “I would like to let the public know that we are aware of the allegations brought against our Executive Director, Shauna Hanson, and are mostly saddened and disappointed that these fabricated claims have only hurt the children of our community. We have absolute confidence that authorities will find these charges to be not only unsubstantiated but, entirely false. As Board members, it is our mission to help ensure that our organization upholds the public trust in our charitable purpose. We know that we will be able to prove this as we do have well documented records of our 501(c) (3) income and expenses and can account for every dollar in AND out of our organization and that it has been utilized exclusively for the betterment of our community, as intended”
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A Fall Creek woman has been charged with theft in Eau Claire County and she is accused of stealing from the charity she founded.
Court documents show Shauna Hanson has been charged with theft-false representation (>$2,500- $5,000).
The criminal complaint says on Jan. 8, Eau Claire Police received a handwritten letter alleging that Hanson was using her charity she founded, Helping Hands for our Children, for her and her friends' personal gain.
Officials talked with a person who claimed Hanson only allows certain people to be involved and that there are invite only events. That person added that often times the same children are being helped over and over again when there are others in need.
Officers then received an email from a woman who said she had donated thousands of dollars to the charity and also has received help from the charity. She claims that she received a donation of clothing but had to throw the clothes away because they smelled strongly of cat urine.
The website at one point directed people to donated via PayPal to a Yahoo email account that was found to be Hanson’s personal account.
Eau Claire Police Officers say in the criminal complaint that between June 2017 and May 2020, Hanson had deposited approximately $63,000 of charity funds into her personal account with nothing to prove that the money was used for Helping Hands. $5,188.33 was transferred from Helping Hands to an account listed under James Hanson.
When detectives informed Hanson that she was being charged due to depositing charity funds into her personal account, she told them, “No I have not”.
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