New Orleans-based fundraiser settles Joplin tornado dispute - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

New Orleans-based fundraiser settles Joplin tornado dispute

A neighborhood destroyed by the E-F5 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011. (Associated Press) A neighborhood destroyed by the E-F5 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011. (Associated Press)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A New Orleans-based fundraiser has agreed to pay Missouri for using Joplin tornado relief donations to pay for clothes, veterinary visits, food and her children's baby sitter.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced the $39,200 settlement Wednesday in Joplin. He said an investigation conducted by his office revealed Sidnay Ray-Bazan collected more than $133,000 after the deadly May 2011 tornado, but spent almost one-third of the money for personal use.

"In 2011, good-hearted people across Missouri and the nation donated money to help the citizens of Joplin recover and rebuild," Koster said. "Unfortunately, we know that some individuals diverted charitable donations for personal gain."

Phone numbers for Ray-Bazan's organization, Relief Spark, and her home were disconnected.

The attorney general said Ray-Bazan transferred donations to help the southwest Missouri town into personal bank accounts and then spent the funds in restaurants, coffee shops and "upscale clothing boutiques."

The probe also found that Relief Spark never filed as a tax-exempt charity with the federal government.

Koster said the settlement money will go to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. That foundation will then provide funds to the nonprofit group, Rebuild Joplin, to continue reconstruction. Rebuild Joplin's website says it has rebuilt or repaired 124 homes since the tornado.

Ray-Bazan's organization got its start raising money to rebuild New Orleans and surrounding areas after Hurricane Katrina. The group began soliciting donations to help in the Joplin relief effort after the 2011 tornado that killed 161 people.

As part of the settlement, Ray-Bazan cannot solicit charitable donations in Missouri for five years. The entire settlement is subject to approval by the Jasper County Circuit Court.

Rebuilding Joplin has become an expensive enterprise. State government expects to spend $15 million this year, partially to reimburse the federal government for its role in the tornado cleanup.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Actress arrested in sex trafficking in 'guru to stars' case

    Actress arrested in sex trafficking in 'guru to stars' case

    Friday, April 20 2018 4:13 PM EDT2018-04-20 20:13:13 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 9:34 PM EDT2018-04-21 01:34:45 GMT
    (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, File). FILE - This June 26, 2012, file photo shows television actress Allison Mack at a party in Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors say television actress Allison Mack, from "Smallville" has been charged with sex tr...(Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP, File). FILE - This June 26, 2012, file photo shows television actress Allison Mack at a party in Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors say television actress Allison Mack, from "Smallville" has been charged with sex tr...
    Federal prosecutors say a television actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend has been charged with sex trafficking for helping recruit women to be slaves of a man who sold himself as a...more>>
    Federal prosecutors say a television actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend has been charged with sex trafficking for helping recruit women to be slaves of a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru.more>>
  • Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson delights high school girl with prom surprise

    Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson delights high school girl with prom surprise

    Friday, April 20 2018 5:35 PM EDT2018-04-20 21:35:23 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 5:35 PM EDT2018-04-20 21:35:23 GMT
    Katie Kelzenberg invited the Hollywood star to her prom next month. (Source: Vianney Le Caer/AP)Katie Kelzenberg invited the Hollywood star to her prom next month. (Source: Vianney Le Caer/AP)

    Katie Kelzenberg invited the Hollywood star to her prom next month.

    more>>

    Katie Kelzenberg invited the Hollywood star to her prom next month.

    more>>
  • Wells Fargo fined $1B for mortgage, auto lending abuses

    Wells Fargo fined $1B for mortgage, auto lending abuses

    Friday, April 20 2018 9:33 AM EDT2018-04-20 13:33:09 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 9:14 PM EDT2018-04-21 01:14:16 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - This Aug. 11, 2017, file photo shows a sign at a Wells Fargo bank location in Philadelphia. The New York Times and other news outlets are reporting Thursday, April 19, 2018, that federal regulators plan to fine Well...(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). FILE - This Aug. 11, 2017, file photo shows a sign at a Wells Fargo bank location in Philadelphia. The New York Times and other news outlets are reporting Thursday, April 19, 2018, that federal regulators plan to fine Well...

    Wells Fargo fined a combined $1 billion by federal regulators for abuses tied to its mortgage and auto lending businesses.

    more>>

    Wells Fargo fined a combined $1 billion by federal regulators for abuses tied to its mortgage and auto lending businesses.

    more>>
Powered by Frankly