Southwest Key Programs’ CEO is stepping down after multiple investigations accusing the nonprofit migrant housing charity of child abuse and fiscal impropriety.
“Widespread misunderstanding of our business and unfair criticism of our people have become a distraction our employees do not deserve, and I can no longer bear. It’s time for new beginnings,”Juan Sanchez said in a letter to staff obtained by CNN.
Southwest Key’s board of directors announced Monday that Sanchez, 71, would retire from the Austin-based organization after 30 years. The organization was awarded more than $1.8 billion in federal funds over the past 10 years for primarily housing unaccompanied minors in more than two dozen shelters. The charity collected more than $500 million in 2018 alone, and is currently the largest shelter provider for migrant children, according to the Arizona Republic.
Allegations have included excessive compensation (Sanchez’ 2016 salary was $1.5 million), and lax employee vetting procedures that led to child abuse.
Additionally, in December the DOJ announced it would investigate the nonprofit’s financial operations for misuse of federal funds. The charity engaged in banking transactions, having amassed $61 million in cash, according to a New York Times article, by lending money to real estate developers. It also rented shelters owned by Sanchez and Chief Financial Officer Melody Chung, which investigators may interpret as self-dealing. Chung resigned shortly after the DOJ announcement.
Read additional info about the Southwest Key worker who sexually abused teen boys and was sentenced to 19 year in prison here: