UPDATE: WA State Auditor Begins Investigation into Michael Goins - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: WA State Auditor Begins Investigation into Michael Goins DPDA Embezzlement

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UPDATE JANUARY 8TH, 2016:

PASCO, WA- The Washington State Auditors Office confirmed to NBC Right Now Friday afternoon they have started an investigation of their own into the embezzlement case involving Michael Goins.

A representative for the auditor's office says they have started interviews this week and will not be able to say much more until it wraps up.

UPDATE 7:01 PM 12/03-

PASCO, WA-  Catch me if you can, that is exactly what Pasco police did as they caught 36-year-old Michael Goins on Tuesday. Goins once was the Executive Director of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority and now even more movie-like details are coming out about his alleged theft.

The movie "Catch Me If You Can" was cited in the probable cause affadavit as Goins favorite movie, similar to the double life his current wife believes he is living.

He was officially charged with first degree theft in Franklin County on Thursday afternoon, as prosecutors believe they have enough evidence he stole at least $90,000.00 from the City of Pasco. We also found Goins civilly settled a case with his previous employer in New Jersey, after they confronted him about a similar type of theft. 

Now, many in the community are asking how Goins received a job here with that type of history. "Typically if something was settled like a corporate loss, that probably tells me that the company discovered some suspicious activity. (They) confronted their employee and decided to handle that in house, so to speak. So there would be nothing in any kind of criminal record or background," explained Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant.

NBC Right Now's Morgan Ashley spoke with Michael Goins step-son in Richland on Thursday, while trying to contact Goins wife. He told us his mother is "distraught" with the entire situation.

The Washington State Auditors Office says their most recent audit does not show any "misuse":

"We learned of the alleged fraud at the Downtown Pasco Development Authority with news of the arrest of its executive director. State law requires notification of the State Auditor's Office whenever a public official suspects the loss of public funds, but we had not been notified in this instance.  

At this point, we are gathering and reviewing the information available, and may conduct a fraud investigation. The incident has been logged into our fraud database and we have reached out to local law enforcement.

The authority did receive an accountability audit with no findings in 2014. But, as that and all such reports state, we do not review every aspect of a program's internal controls with every audit. We focus on areas that present the highest risk of misuse. Also, the 2014 audit covered the period from Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2013. We do not know at this time when the alleged fraud at the authority occurred.

The Auditor's Office holds governments accountable for the use of public resources. We will engage our local partners to ensure there is accountability in the case of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority," explained in an email by Adam Wilson, with the state auditor's office. 

Prosecutor Shawn Sant says typically in these types of situations, the state auditor will come in and investigate. "What they do is a nice concise report of their findings, of what suspicious activities they located, or unaccounted transactions that did not seem to make its way out. Checks that maybe didn't get clear, you know, checks that might have been written...," said Sant.

Rick White, the City of Pasco's Community Development Director told NBC Right Now says they are fully aware of this ongoing investigation:

"The City of Pasco is fully aware of the arrest of Michael Goins, Executive Director of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority (DPDA), for embezzlement. Allegations of financial impropriety must be fully investigated, and the City is working with the DPDA and the Pasco Police Department in examining the records of the DPDA. 

While the DPDA is a separate 501(c)3 (non-profit) organization, it does receive funding from the City, so a full accounting of the financial records and holding the responsible party accountable for any wrongdoing is the most appropriate course of action. 

As this is an ongoing criminal investigation, the City will not comment further at this time.  The City remains committed to continue the mission of the DPDA to strengthen and develop Downtown Pasco as a center for culture, business, and community spirit," White responded in an email request for a statement on Thursday.

Prosecutor Sant says his team is waiting for the criminal investigation to wrap up, as well as an auditors investigation, before they move ahead with the court process. One count of first degree theft, which is equal to around $5,000.00 of stolen goods or money, holds a sentence of one to three months.

Right now, either the prosecution can multiply the count charges based on the amount of stolen money, or add on aggravating factors to the single count. Goins could be looking at a few years of jail time.

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UPDATE 7:10 PM 12/02-

PASCO, WA- More startling information is unraveling after 36-year-old Michael Goins, who used to work for the Downtown Pasco Development Authority, made his first appearance in a Franklin County Court on Wednesday.

According to court documents NBC Right Now received, the former Executive Director wrote checks to himself. Goins owed about $26,000.00 in child support. The DPDA found out about the possible embezzlement after discovering they were behind on their PUD bill by a few hundred dollars. Also, IRS investigators showed up saying the organization owed $50,000.00 in back taxes.

Prosecutors believe Goins ran away from similar accusations in New Jersey. Goins' wife here in Washington believes he is living a double-life after he was reported as a missing person in New Jersey back in 2013.

Mike Miller, the President of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority, told NBC Right Now Goins went through a background check with the City of Pasco. He claims they had no idea he might have been taking funds, until recently. "We're just, we are still the beginning of finding out what the heck is going on here. We are dealing with a situation where this is pretty serious, so we had to go to the police department," explained Miller.

Now, Michael Goins is on suicide watch in the jail and remains on a 72 hour hold until official charges are filed. His bail is set at $100,000.00.

Early investigations indicate Goins stole about $90,000.00 from the City of Pasco over the last two years.

Miller also explained the DPDA has cancelled their christmas events because of the arrest and amount of money missing. 

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UPDATE: Prosecution says Michael Goins fled some similar charges in New Jersey.

They say about $90,000.00 is unaccounted for from the Downtown Developmental Authority.

Right now they believe these thefts took place over the last two years.

Bail has been set at $100,000.00. His next appearance in court is December 8th, 2015.

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PASCO, Wash. - The Pasco Police Department says detectives arrested the Executive Director of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority on Tuesday for embezzling funds.

Detectives have been investigating 36-year-old Michael Goins of Richland for a long period of time. They say the DPDA Executive Board has cooperated with the investigation and they believe no one else was involved. 

Detectives do not know how much money was taken. They say the investigation is ongoing. 

Goins was booked into the Franklin County Correction Center Tuesday afternoon. He is being charged with Theft in the First Degree.

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