Aurora woman charged with fraud in purchase, sale of Kids Town Drop-In Child Care center

Attorney: This is a civil, not criminal case

DENVER - The Denver DA’s economic crimes unit has filed a fraud charge against an Aurora woman who purchased, then sold, the Kids Town Drop-In Child Care Center, at 13th and Krameria, without paying the woman she bought it from.

The woman she sold it to, Shannon Perret, was left holding the bag.  Perret had to give up the center because of a lien and found herself out the $52,000 she had paid Yasmeen Watson.

Watson’s attorney told 7NEWS it’s a civil matter, not criminal.

“There is no proof of fraud,” said Morley Swingle.  “It is not a crime to not pay bills.”

Court documents show that the first owner, Amy Feldman, sold the child care center to Watson for $60,000 in March 2010.  Watson paid $5,000 down and signed a $55,000 promissory note which included an escalation clause stating that upon the sale of the business, monies owed became due and payable.

 Watson made seven payments totaling $4,672, then ceased making payments in 2011, the documents show..

She then sold the center to Perret in March of 2012 for $52,000. At that time, the promissory note to Feldman became due, but no further payments were made, according to court documents.

Perret told 7NEWS that when she purchased the property, she asked Watson if there were any liens or unpaid bills.  She said Watson replied via email, “No, there are no liens, judgments or lawsuits.”

But there were.

“I’m a well-educated person and had a team of people – a lawyer, an accountant and business expert all advising me.  She fooled all of us.”

Investigators say Watson told them she intended to pay Feldman, but had fallen into a depression since her grandmother passed away in May 2012.

But court documents uncovered by 7NEWS state that instead of using the money she received from Perret to pay Feldman, Watson spent most of it, by April 2012, on personal expenses like restaurants, Blockbuster videos and online purchases.

Additionally, a subsequent search of Watson’s Facebook page by the previous owner and by investigators showed Watson celebrating her birthday at a nightclub in Las Vegas on or about July 27, 2012 and partying on Sept. 30, 2012.

“I don’t think she has a conscience,” Perret said. “If not for the legal problems she caused, I could have sold the business.”

Perret said that after paying some of Watson’s bills, she considered shutting the business down, but opted to give it back to the franchiser so it would remain open for parents who had already paid for child care.

She said doesn’t expect to get any restitution.

“When you have money stolen from you, unlike a car, there is no insurance policy,” she said. “You have to find a way to be O.K. with it and let it go.”

Swingle told 7NEWS that his client didn’t intend to defraud anyone.

“Yasmeen is a college graduate who was in the process of applying to law schools when this charge was filed,” Swingle said.  “She is 100% innocent and if the case is not dismissed we will insist on a jury trial.”

Swingle said his client admits she owes money to the person she bought (the child care center) from but stressed that it “should be a civil matter rather than criminal because she had no criminal intent whatsoever.”

Perret said she’s glad Watson was arrested and formally charged with defrauding a secured creditor.

 “It’s just a shame that someone who is so cunning and capable would not put those skills to a more positive use.”

After Watson sold the child care center, she purchased a holistic health care business in Boulder.

The property owner told 7NEWS that he spent $20,000 remodeling the office space for that business and that Watson failed to pay the lease.

She then moved the business to Denver to office space she had leased at 16th and Market Streets.

A source there said Watson sublet the property and collected rent but didn't pay the lease there either.

Watson said there is some comfort in knowing that she is not the only victim.

“I don’t have my money back, but at least I have my life back," she said. "I’m not in such a great place that I forgive her.  I want something to happen to her, because I want her not to do this to other people.”