Affidavit: Casper Woman Raised $20K for Hungry Kids; Kept Most of It
Prosecutors say a Casper woman raised more than $20,000 to pay off local students' lunch debt, but she kept all but $3,500 for herself.
That's according to charging documents filed against Brittny French this week in Natrona County District Court. She's charged with check fraud, obtaining property by false pretenses and theft. The first two charges are felonies punishable by up to 10 years behind bars, $10,000 in fines or both.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Natrona County School District officials contacted police in April 2019 and were given a timeline regarding a fundraising effort titled "Feed Casper Students."
Police learned that French met with school officials in September 2018 to discuss a GoFundMe page that had been set up to help pay off students' lunch debt, court documents state.
In January 2019, the school district received two anonymous letters stating French had raised money but never gave it to the school district. The next month, French reportedly told school officials that she was seriously ill and that they could expect $4,000 by the end of the following month, court documents say.
The affidavit alleges that French wrote a check to the school district in March 2019 for $4,563.25 but later called the district and asked them not to cash it as one donor's check bounced. A new check was delivered for $4,049.51.
Then it bounced, court documents say.
A Casper police detective received an anonymous letter in April 2019 in which the anonymous author stated that they believed $10,000 was raised for Feed Casper Students, but it was never distributed, the affidavit alleges.
The police detective was able to find a GoFundMe account titled "Feed Casper Students," which had received $1,213 in donations.
Court documents state that an account at a local bank filed under "Feed Casper Students" had a total of $19,253.89 deposited into it. Of that money, $17,978.84 was removed in cash withdrawals. An additional $278.62 was debited at gas and fuel stations. The remainder was spent at Jumpcraze, Walmart, Kmart, swiftforms.com, Aarons Rentals and Facebook.
There was also a bounced check fee for the check issued to the school district.
Charging documents do state that French provided the school district $3,500 in cash, which was used to pay off student lunch debt.
In a separate incident, prosecutors say French took a woman's debit card from her parked car and ordered several items from Amazon. French also allegedly used her former employer's — a law firm — email address for the purchase.
Someone with the law firm told police that French was a former paralegal there and was fired for falsifying a cease and desist letter.
French has not had an opportunity to enter pleas to the charges. She will do so during an arraignment in Natrona County District Court, which has not yet been scheduled.