Fraud accusations stir up trouble for MLK Grande Parade staffers - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Fraud accusations stir up trouble for MLK Grande Parade staffers

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The MLK Grande Parade has been a staple in Houston for the past 20 years.  It snakes down the streets as a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mary Jou was a vendor for the parade.  

"Someone inside of their organization has given out false credit card numbers, left unpaid balances ... pocketing money themselves," Jou said.

That's the problem the parade organizer said he is facing: allegations one of the parade's paid volunteers may have left some businesses, like Advision Signs, holding the bag.

The small mom-and-pop business created a series of signs for the annual parade, but Jou said she only received $800 of the $2,000 they were owed.

The owners said they first received a stolen credit card from a MLK parade representative over the phone to pay the remaining bill.  The charge did not go through, so that MLK representative, who we are not identifying, then issued a check that was worthless.

"It's very sad and unfortunately they're using the name of Dr. King's name to represent whatever is going on."

Jimmy Storms owns a golf cart rental business on the Gulf Freeway.  Storms said he has his $1,500+ from the MLK Grande Parade because he says he took the check straight to the bank, but he thinks the check will be returned because he was told this by the executive director of the parade:

"I talked to Mr. Charles Stamps and he told me he was going to send the check back and I can go to the DA's office to collect it … Think I was defrauded by that check."

We had a long conversation with the parade's executive director, Charles Stamps, by phone.  He said the problems stem from a paid volunteer who he says not only used a stolen credit card to try and pay for the MLK parade signs but also misrepresented the organization on several occasions.

Stamps said the other issues where checks have not been honored involving a handful of accounts are being resolved internally.

Stamps said this should have no reflection on his 20-year event, but a volunteer he misplaced his trust in.

In the meantime, the owners of Advision Signs simply say they want their money they're due for the services they provided.

The Houston Police Department confirms they have opened a credit card fraud investigation involving a stolen credit card that was used at Advision.

We contacted the owner of the American Express card who said it was stolen by the paid MLK Grande parade volunteer.  The cardholder says the volunteer once worker for her at a local business.

We confronted the MLK worker who denied any wrongdoing, pointing the finger at the executive director.

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