Newtown Donations Missing: $70K Raised by Charity Unaccounted For

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 07:09 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Donations for victims' families in the Newtown school shooting tragedy are missing from a Tennessee-based charity that raised more than $100,000 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Of the $103,000 collected by the 26.4.26 charity, just $30,000 is accounted for, according to co-founder Ryan Graney. The remaining $70,000-plus was supposed to have been presented to the Newtown Youth Academy, a non-profit youth sports center, early last year by fellow 26.4.26 co-founder Robbie Bruce, Graney told the Associated Press.

The $70,000 apparently never reached its intended recipient and Bruce has since cut off ties with Graney and the organization as a whole, the AP reported. According to Graney, Bruce was in charge of the nonprofit's finances.

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Attempts by the AP to contact Bruce, who reportedly lives in a gated community outside of Nashville, Tenn., were unsuccessful on Friday. According to an online biography, Bruce is an endurance athlete who co-founded the Nashville-based fitness training company X3 Endurance.

Eddie Ferrell, another co-founder of that company, said it ended its relationship with Bruce almost a year ago and his whereabouts are unknown, the AP reported.

Graney has she filed complaints with the FBI and the Tennessee attorney general's office, however neither agency was willing to comment on the matter, considering it is an ongoing investigation.

Graney says she first became concerned with the nonprofits finances when last spring she noticed several suspicious charges on the group's PayPal account.

"I saw there was $1,200 billed for paddle boards," she said. "I went on (Bruce's) Instagram page, and he had posted a picture of a paddle board in the back of his truck."

When she contacted Bruce about the charges, he reportedly told her not to worry and that they would meet to go over them in person together. According to Graney, Bruce never showed up to the meeting and soon after cut off contact with her.

"I am in tears, sick about this," Graney told the AP Friday, adding that the nonprofit had virtually no overhead so there is no reason that money should not have gone to its intended source.

The remaining $30,000 was given to the Newtown Youth Academy, which the organization acknowledged it received in a check from Graney.

Graney said her hope is that by publicizing the problem it will help whomever has that $70,000 give it to its intended recipient, so long as it hasn't yet been spent.

"If I knew what was going on, I would have stopped it sooner," she said. "I feel terrible. I couldn't sit by and let this happen."

The 26.4.26 Foundation was created for runners to participate in marathons through which they would raise money for each of the 26 miles they ran and dedicating each mile to one of the 26 school victims of the shooting.

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