A Scottsbluff man is accused of stealing funds from an online campaign touted to benefit the children of a woman killed in a crash last year.
Febronio Plasencio Jr., 37, has been charged with theft by deception, a Class IIA felony, according to Scotts Bluff County Court records. He is scheduled to be arraigned on charges Monday.
According to an arrest affidavit filed in county court, Gering Police had been contacted by a Gering man in February. The man expressed concern that Plasencio had set up a fundraiser for the children of Holly Heath, who died Dec. 5, 2019, after being injured in a Nov. 20, 2019, crash. The woman had been survived by three young children.
The fundraiser has been set up on the GoFundMe platform and the man expressed concern that Plasencio would not give the funds to Heath’s family, as intended. According to the online platform, $5,875 has been raised on the account.
On. Feb. 28, a Gering Police sergeant spoke to Pat Heath, who is Heath’s father.
Pat Heath told the sergeant that concerns had been expressed to him about Plasencio setting up the account, but that persons at Holly Heath’s employer had vouched for the man’s sincerity so he was allowed to set up the fund. Pat Heath’s wife, Shellie, told the sergeant that she would talk to Plasencio about the status of the account.
In March, the Gering sergeant followed up with Shellie Heath, who said Plasencio told her he would close out the account and get her the money. Plasencio told her it would take about five to seven business days, according to information in the affidavit.
A Gering Police investigator spoke to Plasencio about the account on March 12, 2020, and Plasencio told him he was also planning a poker run. He told the investigator he intended to give the family the monies from the fundraiser at that time and that account was still being used. According to the GoFundMe fundraiser and postings on his social media, Plasencio also held other fundraisers purported to benefit Holly Heath’s children.
On March 24, Gering Police obtained a warrant for the records at GoFundMe and found that money had been withdrawn from the account regularly during November 2019, December 2019, January 2020 and February 2020. The funds were being transferred to an account that Plasencio had set up.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for account and compared those withdrawals from the GoFundMe account to deposits in Plasencio’s account. The investigator determined that a large amount of transactions had been made to Google Peak, but there were also several ATM withdrawals totaling $2,702.92 and transactions at restaurants, bars and shopping for $842.63.
Based on the records, the investigator says in the court affidavit, “it appears that all of the money that was donated to GoFundMe to assist with the Holly Heath family has been depleted.”