At the October 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. This criminal investigation was initiated in November of 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.