THE FORMER chairman of the South Street Headhouse District was accused Friday of misappropriating $1.4 million meant to beautify and promote the entertainment corridor and using it to cover bills at two restaurants he owned on the strip.
Federal prosecutors allege that Dan Christensen, co-owner of Copabanana and Redwood, illegally withdrew money - sometimes as much as $430,000 at a time - from the district's business accounts to prop up his businesses between November 2014 and June 2015. All of the money was subsequently replaced, authorities said.
Christensen, 42, resigned as the district's board chairman last year after an internal audit revealed the withdrawals.
He did not return calls for comment Friday. It was not clear whether he had retained a lawyer.
Though investigators say Christensen maintained his alleged embezzlement scheme for nearly a year, he faces only one count of wire fraud connected to a December 2014 withdrawal of $18,500 from the district's business account. Christensen was charged via a criminal information rather than an indictment - typically a sign that a defendant has agreed to plead guilty.
The South Street Headhouse District is one of a number of "special service districts" in the city, like the Center City District, created under state law as nongovernmental entities to provide services like sidewalk and street cleaning, business promotion, and festival planning in a limited geographic area.
The Headhouse District was created in 1993 to promote South Street's entertainment strip from Front to 11th Streets as well as Headhouse Square and Fabric Row. With an annual operating budget of $700,000, it is funded by annual assessments on the approximately 1,000 properties within its geographic boundaries.
District representatives did not respond to calls for comment late Friday.