Police: Man stole $100,000 from Eagle County’s Habitat affiliate
EAGLE, Colorado – A man hired to protect the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate from fraud was arrested after allegedly stealing $100,000 from the local nonprofit.
Donald McBee was Habitat’s construction manager. Part of McBee’s job was to approve invoices and protect Habitat for Humanity from fraud by making sure any submitted invoices were for work that was actually completed satisfactorily, according to Eagle police.
McBee is being charged with felony theft, Eagle police said. He was arrested Aug. 30 by the Park County Sheriff’s Office. McBee bonded out of the Park County jail on $100,000 bond.
“We’re cooperating with the authorities and we’re a victim in this,” said John Welaj, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties.
He’s not sure if they’ll get their money back.
“We’re waiting to see what happens, just like everyone else. We’re letting the authorities handle it,” Welaj said.
The case started as a theft report on June 15 when Habitat for Humanity reported a theft to Eagle police. The case soon turned into a complex business fraud scheme, according to Eagle police reports.
Joseph Greiner’s trailer had been stolen from his business in 2008. He discovered last June that the trailer was being sold by Habitat for Humanity’s outlet store in Eagle.
The next day, June 16, Greiner got his trailer back. Habitat’s staff had no knowledge that the trailer had been stolen, and had no paperwork showing ownership, Eagle police said.
Police investigators quickly learned that the trailer had been purchased from Encompass, a company based in Leadville.
Habitat for Humanity paid Encompass $6,000 for the stolen trailer.
But that’s where the story takes a big turn.
Encompass was found to be a fraudulent/false company, Eagle police said.
Their investigation found that Encompass was assigned to a personal account, owned and run by McBee, a former employee of Habitat for Humanity. His job was to help the local nonprofit steer clear of fraud and unscrupulous contractors, police said.
Investigators also found that McBee’s account had also fraudulently been used as Santa Fe Lopez Concrete.
However, in the meantime it turned out that Santa Fe Lopez Concrete was a real company owned by someone else, but that McBee was not connected to it.
Habitat for Humanity paid Santa Fe Lopez Concrete for work on homes being built in the Bluffs neighborhood in Eagle, as well as to Encompass.
As the investigation progressed, police found that the checks had been deposited into McBee’s account, and the money was not spent on anything related to the Habitat for Humanity construction projects.
When investigators added it all up, McBee had disguised and stolen more than $100,000 from the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
Eagle police say that no one with Habitat knew know about McBee’s connection with Encompass or Santa Fe Lopez Concrete.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.