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KFDM investigates missing money from Nederland Heritage Festival

KFDM and 6 News on Fox are learning why the Nederland Police Department isn't pursuing a criminal case in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Nederland Heritage Festival.

Many who are involved with the festival may be wondering why. Our Peter Eliopoulos learned the Heritage Festival board of directors opted out of filing a criminal complaint in exchange for restitution from former manager Wanda Hollier.

Hollier resigned in 2016.

No one is publicly naming her a suspect in the theft but we're told she made a non-prosecution agreement with the board of directors to pay back an unspecified amount of money.

"There needs to be a complaint made on any criminal act," Nederland Police Chief Darrel Bush told us. "Without a complaint, we can't file charges."

Bush is the vice president of the Nederland Heritage Festival board.

He spoke with us Tuesday on behalf of the police department.

"This occured back in 2016," said Chief Bush. "There was no formal complaint filed with the police department, therefore there was no criminal investigation conducted."

Nederland community members reached out to KFDM asking why no charges were filed.

"It just wasn't like her to do that," Kathy Crawford told us. "I'm just shocked. I'm in disbelief."

Crawford has known Hollier for 15 years and thinks she should face charges.

"That's a lot of money. That was a criminal problem. I didn't know it was that much money."

Chief Bush said if the board decided to make a complaint then he and the Nederland Police Department would've recused itself and asked the District Attorney's Office to help investigate.

District Attorney Bob Wortham tells us Nederland Police would have to investigate, and if they bring a complaint to him, then his office can get involved.

"Someone would have to file a complaint," Wortham told us. "It wouldn't go to us. It would go to Nederland Police. We can't start an investigation without a complainant. If someone goes to Nederland Police with a complaint and police come to us, we'd investigate. We're more than happy to assist any agency if they ask for our help. Without that, our hands are tied."

We also reached out several times to the board's lawyer. His secretary said we should expect more details in the coming days.


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