Somehow we missed this when Stephanie Lea Blaine of Sioux Falls first appeared in court in late March but that’s OK, we’ve got her now.
The 33-year-old is accused of stealing $3,583.36 ($3905 minus GoFundMe fees) from a GoFundMe campaign she set up to benefit the family of a little girl killed in a car accident in late 2016.
The little girl’s mother Cynthia Mathis grew increasingly — and totally understandably — impatient after Blaine did not turn over the funds raised and continued to give her excuses as to why she was unable to. She even delayed her daughter’s funeral in hope of receiving the much-needed funds to cover the services.
The campaign was promptly removed from the site after Mathis contacted GoFundMe to let them know that she never received any of the funds raised to bury her daughter. GoFundMe informed her that Blaine withdrew every penny raised via nine separate withdrawals. “So, I contacted GoFundMe myself. They sent me an email with withdrawals that were being taken directly from the account into her bank account,” Mathis said. GoFundMe went on to reimburse Mathis for the stolen funds.
Blaine has been charged with felony grand theft, and pleaded not guilty. She faces up to five years in prison.
Speaking to KELOLAND News, Cynthia Mathis warned others to be careful about who you trust to set up a GoFundMe campaign on your behalf. “[T]here are vultures everywhere,” she said.
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Update: Stephanie Lea Blaine was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 80 suspended on the condition she obey all laws, not consume alcohol or drugs and complete any treatment program deemed necessary by her probation officer, and a suspended five year prison sentence.