Denison business owners react to Chamber theft

DENISON, Texas (KXII) -- It's hard to overstate the impact Anna McKinney had on Denison. She served as Chamber president for nearly 40 years.

"Darn it, I'm disappointed to be honest,” Marcie Sullivan, owner of Print House Boutique on Main Street, told News12.

"She was a great person running the chamber for many years did a lot of positive things,” Tamie Odon, owner of Sparrow’s Gallery, said. “So I'm not going to stand in judgement and I'm going to hope that no one else would do that either."

In fact, the Chamber building is still named after her and her husband.

"I think people are people and people make mistakes,” Odon said. “It's what we do."

The investigation was made public back in February, months after McKinney resigned from the organization.

An audit into the Chamber and subsequent investigation by the Texas Rangers concluded McKinney stole more than $39,000 from the Chamber and the Denison Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2015 to 2016.

Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown said McKinney took the money in the form of bonuses and reimbursements to herself as well as payments to her personal credit card.

Brown wouldn't comment on camera, but in a written statement explained why he cut her a deal, saying she had "personal issues" when she made bad decisions.

McKinney has to pay bad the $39,000 she took, plus legal fees and a $1,000 fine, totaling just over $55,000.

She could have served up to 10 years in prison, instead she got 5 years’ probation and the conviction will get wiped from her record if she stays out of trouble.

It’s a deal Brown said he hopes will "encourage defendants to cooperate the way Mrs. McKinney has."

Interim Chamber President Shelle Cassell released a statement to News12 on Friday, stating "We are pleased to be able to put this matter behind us as we continue to focus on serving the businesses that make up the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce."

Business owners on Main Street echoed that sentiment.

"It's really unfortunate it happened but let's face it, this isn't normal,” Sullivan said. “I trust that Chamber Office and I'm proud to be a part of it.”

"I see that we are moving forward in dynamic ways and I just see this as something we'll put behind us and keep on rolling,” Odon said. “As far as the Chamber goes we’ve had great leadership with the chamber, we continue to have great leadership with the chamber. So I see positive things for Denison.”

McKinney’s lawyer had no comment.

The Chamber told us the search for a new permanent president is ongoing.

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