Centro San Antonio Staffer Under Investigation For Embezzlement; Longtime CEO Resigns
Updated at 5 p.m.
Centro San Antonio CEO Pat DiGiovanni has resigned amid an embezzlement investigation, according to a news release.
The board of directors of Centro San Antonio, which is a public-private partnership that oversees downtown development, announced Wednesday it has accepted DiGiovanni’s resignation following the “discovery of a fraudulent 2015-16 audit of the organization and its Public Improvement District, as well as monies that had been embezzled by a staff accountant.”
The accountant was not named in the release. But Don Frost, board chairman, said in the statement DiGiovanni “had absolutely nothing to do with the financial indiscretions.”
“The board and he both felt his resignation was in the best interest of Centro San Antonio," Frost said.
According to Frost, the fraud was discovered after meeting with an accounting firm said to have been contracted to conduct the audit.
“When it became apparent the accounting firm had not been associated with the audit, an investigation was immediately launched,” the statement read.
While the accounting firm was also not named in the release, District 9 Councilman John Courage, chairman of the council’s audit committee, said discrepancies in financial reporting for Centro raised red flags.
“Apparently whoever did this did an excellent job of creating a bogus audit that fooled the board of Centro and fooled our city manager’s department," Courage said.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said although DiGiovanni has not been charged with any wrongdoing, the change in leadership was appropriate.
“We’ll await the results of the investigation understanding that every organization doing business in our city, especially those that receive benefits as non-profit entities, owes our residents their very best efforts to ensure they’re living up to the highest standards of integrity,” Nirenberg said.
According to the release, roughly $175,000 had been embezzled over a two-year period. The San Antonio Police Department confirmed a criminal investigation has been launched but no arrests have been made.
Darryl Byrd, an urban planning consultant with Centro San Antonio for the past two years, is working with the board until it hires a new CEO, the release said.
"There is a tremendous amount of passion around Centro San Antonio and its ability to bring positive change to downtown San Antonio," Frost was quoted as saying. "It's vitally important for that transformational work to continue, and the board will ensure that's exactly what happens."