Childcare provider says she's been swindled out of life savings, dream business

Investigators looking for money trail

DENVER - Shannon Perret says she never thought the dream of owning and running her own childcare business would turn into a nightmare, but that’s what happened.

Perret told 7NEWS that she spent her life savings to purchase the Drop-In Child Care Center at East 13th Avenue  and Krameria Street.

She says she made two payments, one in January of 2012 and the balance two months later.

Shortly afterward, she was served paperwork indicating that a previous owner still had a legal claim to the property. Only then did Perret learn that she didn’t own the business.

"I probably spent the last year and a half crying and screaming and being angry," Perret said. "I'm over that."

Court documents show that the first owner, Amy Feldman sold the childcare center to Yasmeen 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 owned became due and payable.

Those court documents state that Watson agreed to 33 monthly payments of $667.30 with a balloon payment in month 36, a Personal Guaranty and a UCC Security Agreement.

They also state that Watson made seven payments totaling $4,672, but ceased in 2011.

Watson 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.

Perret told 7NEWS that when she was negotiating to buy the business, Watson assured her there were no liens against the property.  She produced a copy of the email exchange where she asked Watson specifically if there were any liens or unpaid bills.  Watson replied, “No, there are no liens, judgments or lawsuits.”

“I think she’s skilled at not telling the truth,” Perret told 7NEWS, “and probably has a lot of experience with that.”

Perret said Watson lied about a lot of things.

“I had a team of people,” Perret said. “I had a lawyer. I had an accountant. I had the (head of the franchise) and she was able to dupe all of us.”

When an investigator from the Denver District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Unit sent a letter to Watson asking about her intentions, Watson sent a response stating that she accepted responsibility for the debt and had intended to repay Feldman, but had fallen into a deep depression since her grandmother passed away in May of 2012.  Court documents state that Watson attached a letter from her therapist, who stated that Watson was incapable of functioning at her normal capacity.

But 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.

That angers Perret.

“I see images of her going on vacation, having fun and enjoying life,” Perret said. “I haven’t been able to do that for a year and a half because of what she did to me.”

The would-be owner says she last saw Watson driving a Mercedes and saw that Watson posted a picture of her son’s birthday celebration, which included a ride in a stretch Hummer limo, on her Facebook page.

Perret is not the only one with complaints about Watson.

7NEWS learned that after selling the Drop-In Child Care Center, Watson signed a lease and opened Rocky Mountain Holistic Healing Center in an office building at 16th and Market streets.  A source there said Watson then sublet the property, collected rent and never paid her lease.

Watson told 7NEWS she had no prior experience operating a childcare center or a holistic healing center.

When asked why she got into the childcare business, Watson said “I wanted to do something where I could spend time with my children.”

When asked about her email claiming there were no liens against the childcare center, Watson said, “I’m trying to think. I didn’t lie. She was aware of the initial owner. Everything was out in the open.”

When asked specifically if she told Perret there were liens on the property, Watson first said, “She was aware of the entire story,” then said, “I don’t recall telling her there were liens on the property.

7NEWS also found a previous court case against Watson where a creditor won a $14,716 claim against her.  A claim which records show has not been satisfied.

When asked her reaction to people calling her a thief, Watson replied, “That’s very surprising and disheartening. I don’t really know what to say.”

Investigators are trying to determine what Watson did with all the cash Perret paid her.

Watson, who declined an on-camera interview, told 7NEWS by phone that she used the money to pay operating expenses at the Drop-In Child Care Center.  Perret disputes that saying she ended up paying many of Watson’s expenses.

Center employee Jennifer Smithers said Watson didn’t do a very good job of running the business because she was never there.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” Smithers said, “until I started receiving collection calls, calls about (Watson) not paying the bills. Then checks started bouncing.”

When asked what she thinks Watson did with the money she paid her, Perret shook her head and said, “She’s having more fun than I am… It angers me that she’s enjoying her life and I’m stuck cleaning up her mess and I’m not going to be able to get any restitution.”

Perret said she’s hopeful that prosecutors will be able to build a case against Watson. When asked what she’d like to see happen, Perret said, “I would like to receive a phone call from the DA’s office saying, ‘be at this place, at this time cause you’re going to see her come out in handcuffs. That’s what I’d like.”

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