Austin non-profit closes down



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Posted on April 13, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 13 at 10:39 PM

On Tuesday, the Travis County District Attorney's office issued an arrest warrant for Louann Aponte, the executive director of a non-profit agency called Family Connections. 

The arrest warrant for Aponte was issued the same day Family Connections shut its doors, much to the dismay of its 30 employees and to the unsuspecting parents who showed up Tuesday afternoon only to discover a locked door.  

Aponte is charged with Tampering with a Governmental Document, a State Jail Felony which could mean 180-days to two years in jail.

"I'm appalled that they're closing because they're such an asset to the community and it's for the children, they're such an asset to the children," said Juliette Nickle, an Austin mother who uses Family Connections. 

Family Connections is a non-profit agency in the business of providing free early childhood development programs and parenting classes. The agency received almost a million dollars in state funding over a four year period and $1-million from the City of Austin.

A random audit in February uncovered inconsistencies which led back to Aponte.  The executive director turned in her resignation in mid-March and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

"Shock, denial, depression, anger that one person who is a dishonest person could ruin a fabulous organization that serves thousands of people," said Amy Clift , a volunteer with Family Connections. 

On Tuesday afternoon employee after employee could be seen carrying boxes filled with personal items out of the Family Connections building to their cars.

Records show that Aponte made a salary of $88,000 in 2008.  It's not clear how much money Aponte is accused of bilking Family Connections out of.  Investigators are also looking into how long the activity may have been going on.

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