Court reports: Randi Romanoff did not use any ‘Lights for Layla’ money for safety improvements

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Randi Romanoff, founder of ‘Lights for Layla,’ is facing six felony charges after being arrested August 28 for fraud.

“Lights for Layla” was started to buy lights to make bus stops safer in Lee County following the hit-and-run death of Layla Aiken.

From March to June of 2019, Romanoff collected money through donations from members of the community. The non-profit held online fundraisers and in-person events and ultimately raised $72,804, according to court reports.

“A portion of the raised funds went toward the intended purpose of supporting the Aiken family, however, the remaining donations were misappropriated and were not used toward bus stop safety improvements,” police said Wednesday night.

According to the arrest affidavit, Romanoff used around $28,903.65 for personal gain and transferred nearly $46,000 to Layla’s mother without using the money on safety improvements.

Romanoff, reportedly, took over the charity’s accounts early on and was the sole signatory.

Lacey Williams and Jade Morton, the other two ‘Lights for Layla’ founders, reported Romanoff in February after community members started asking questions and asking for receipts on how the money was being spent, court documents say.

Williams and Morton, reportedly, checked the bank records to find all the cash was missing.

“None of the Lights for Layla, Inc. donations were used as they were intended and instead were used for personal spending; which included attorney’s fees, large cash withdrawals, Microsoft/Xbox, Diamondhead Beach Resort, utility bills, toll violations, retail shopping, restaurants, and other personal spending,” police said.

Romanoff also used funds to pay for jail phone calls when she was in-custody on an unrelated charge, according to court reports.

Detectives discovered Romanoff had two accounts that shut down due to a negative balance.

Romanoff is facing four third-degree felonies for fraud and embezzlement and two second-degree felonies for scheming and grand theft, according to the arrest affidavit.

The Cape Coral Police Department said Romanoff was involved in money laundering, bank fraud, vehicle fraud, mortgage fraud, mail fraud, credit card fraud, wire fraud offenses, conspiracy, identity theft and counterfeiting checks, credit cards, and U.S. currency.

She is facing charges for violating the Solicitation of Contributions Act, larceny of over $20,000, scheme to defraud, giving false statements by misrepresenting solicitation as charity, embezzlement and swindling.

Read the full affidavit here:

Preview attachment Romanoff.pdf

Romanoff.pdf7.6 MB

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