Fundraiser controversy: Questions about money raised for fallen deputy's family

HOUSTON – The organizer of a fundraiser to benefit the family of a fallen law enforcement officer is the subject of a fraud investigation, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said Monday.

Proceeds of the event were forwarded to the family of Chief Clint Greenwood. Greenwood, a Harris County assistant chief deputy constable with Precinct 3, was murdered the morning of April 3.

"Somewhere between ($20,000) and $25,000 has been delivered to the family and they're talking somewhere ($35,000) and $40,000 was raised," Hawthorne said.

Two people involved in the fundraiser filed complaints, last Thursday, Hawthorne said.

Caleb Warden, 29, told Channel 2 Investigates, Joel Eisenbaum, Monday, any allegation that he misappropriated money or skimmed event proceeds is false.

"You got to prove what was taken, and you can't," Warden said.

Warden said that he had expenses in the neighborhood of $10,000 that were deducted from the proceeds of fundraiser, which was attended by thousands, according to Hawthorne.

Warden has not been charged with a crime, related to this investigation.

"There's nothing criminal. It's my benefit I can chose who I want to donate to," Warden said.

Warden said that there are still more proceeds being tallied from a silent auction at the Crawfish Boil. He said those funds will be disbursed according to a vote from auction committee members.

Warden would not tell Channel 2 Investigates, Monday, who sits on the auction committee.

Warden said the "100 Club" could get the proceeds, instead of the family.

Sheriff Hawthorne said the investigation could last for weeks, unraveling and tracing transactions is time consuming, he said.

"For the money to go anywhere else except expenses or proceeds, I don't know if the Chambers County grand jury would like that," Sheriff Hawthorne said.

Royal Purple Raceway, where the benefit was held, released the following statement:

"We are disappointed to learn the organizers of the Crawfish Cook-Off Fundraiser held at Royal Purple Raceway, benefiting fallen police officer Chief Clint Greenwood, are under investigation for alleged misappropriation of money and for the skimming of funds from the event.

"We graciously donated the use of our facility and staff at no expense to help support their efforts to raise funds for the Greenwood family.  Any improper use of benefit funds is simply unacceptable, morally offensive, and criminal.

"We have complete confidence in Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne, his team of investigator, and the Chambers County District Attorney’s Office and know they will swiftly complete this investigation and get to the bottom of these allegations."