Former Marshalltown CVB director charged with embezzlement

The former director of the Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau has been arrested and charged with embezzlement after the organization learned of the alleged misuse of a credit card.

On Thursday, Shannon Espenscheid, 44, of Green Mountain was arrested and charged with first-degree theft (Class C felony) and ongoing criminal conduct (Class B felony).

According to Capt. Michael Hanken with the Marshalltown Police Department, authorities were initially contacted on Jan. 5 by David Barajas Jr., CEO of the Marshalltown Regional Partnership, in regards to suspicious and possibly fraudulent credit card expenditures allegedly made by Espenscheid.

After reviewing financial data provided by the Marshalltown CVB, the MPD conducted its investigation revealing at least $10,000 in fraudulent purchases were made by Espenscheid – the threshold for the first-degree theft charge.

Hanken said he was unable to reveal the total amount in alleged credit card purchases because the MPD is continuing to review financial documents.

Meanwhile, Barajas issued a statement about the investigation and Espenscheid’s status at the CVB.

“After the completion of an internal investigation, Shannon Espenscheid was relieved of her duties as the executive director of the Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau Dec. 29, 2015.

“Ms. Espenscheid’s termination was as a direct result of some financial irregularities that we discovered regarding the personal use of a business credit card.

“We intend to pursue full restitution of funds relating to the improper credit card use back to the CVB.

“Upon termination the matter was turned over immediately to the Marshalltown Police Department; and after their investigation the charges that you have seen today were filed.”

Barajas later told the Times-Republican: “I want to make it clear that this is an isolated case involving one employee. In light of this development, the CVB has put into place more stringent auditing procedures.”

The CVB budget receives funds from the local hotel-motel tax and miscellaneous grant funds, among other sources. Espenscheid began her employment as CVB executive director in September of 2007, Barajas said.

She was released from custody on a promise to appear in court – set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 10 in Marshall County District Court.