The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 5, 2014

Missouri Attorney General announces recovery of tornado relief donations from Relief Spark

— Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster today announced a settlement with a New Orleans woman who came to Joplin to help after the tornado and used some of the donations she collected for personal expenses.

Koster said Sidney Ray-Bazan collected more than $133,000 in donations for tornado relief efforts and illegally diverted  more than $39,000 for herself. The investigation revealed that Ray-Bazan , who headed Relief Spark, made cash withdrawals and transfers to her personal account from the charity’s bank account, and spent some of donated funds at New Orleans restaurants, boutiques and grocery stores.

She has agreed to repay that money, which will go back into rebuilding efforts. Koster said the state will hand over the settlement to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which will give it to Rebuild Joplin. The press conference announcing the settlement was held at Rebuild Joplin offices.

Officials with Rebuild Joplin said the money “comes at a perfect time” because about 100 volunteers will be coming to Joplin over spring break to work on rebuilding projects. The money will go for lumber, drywall and other supplies to complete homes for residents displaced after the tornado.

 

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