Attorney General: relatives fraudulently spent donations raised for fire victim

Attorney General: relatives fraudulently spent donations raised for fire victim
Nearly 7 months after fire ripped through her Watertown home, killing her father and four sisters, Hailey Bodah has yet to see $70,000 worth of money that was raised on her behalf. (Source: Source:WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Nearly 7 months after fire ripped through her Watertown home, killing her father and four sisters, Hailey Bodah has yet to see $70,000 worth of money that was raised on her behalf. In fact, there are allegations that her relatives fraudulently spent those funds.

That’s according to the Office of the New York State Attorney General, which filed an action in state Supreme Court this week.

According to court papers, paternal relatives of Hailey Bodah raised more than $100,000 for the teen through a GoFundMe page and community fundraisers.

However, the court action says those relatives failed to turn over more than $70,000 to Bodah, fraudulently spent the money on things like home appliances and furniture, and then lied to the AG's office.

On February 14, fire ripped through the Myrtle Avenue home of 13 year old Hailey Bodah. The blaze killed her father and four sisters.

Hailey's relatives, Kenneth Bodah Jr., Beth Ann Bodah and Travis Bodah, raised money to help Hailey following the fire, the court action states.

As of August 2, no money had been turned over to Hailey or her mother, Melissa Davey, the documents said. The AG's office demanded the relatives disclose how much money was raised, where it was and provide a plan to turn over the funds.

According to the court papers, the relatives' lawyer hand delivered a cashier's check for $35,021.61 on September 20. The money reportedly came from the GoFundMe donations and from a bank account.

On September 24, the AG's office says it obtained paperwork from Watertown Savings Bank for "The Bodah Family Memorial Fund" account, held in the names of Kenneth and Travis Bodah.

Between February 19 and September 23, a total of $97,199.29 was deposited, the action said.

According to the court papers, more than $5,300 from that account was used to buy a number of appliances from Lowe’s Home Improvement store, including a stainless steel sink with faucet, garbage disposal, electric range, microwave, dishwasher, side-by-side stainless steel refrigerator, stackable washing machine and gas dryer.

Another $453 was used to make purchases at Wayfair.com, an online home furnishings store.

Documents showed Travis Bodah withdrew $35,021.61 for a check for Hailey Bodah.

That same day, the AG's office received information from Community Bank that $9,361.61 had been used to pay a monument company and a church.

The AG's office said to date, the relatives had turned over less than 33 percent of the funds raised to Hailey of her mother.

"Even more egregiously, they have concealed more than two-thirds of the funds from the Attorney General in her efforts to ensure compliance with the statute and spent over $15,000 of the money raised in ways that were not ‘for the benefit of H.B.'" the court action said.

The AG's office said the remaining $71,539.29 should be turned over to Hailey.

The documents also said the relatives should be fined.

All three are accused of failing to pay funds to Hailey and violating the law. Kenneth and Beth Bodah are accused of making false statements to the AG's office.

Kenneth Bodah is accused of fraud.

7 News was unable to reach Kenneth, Beth Ann and Travis Bodah for comment.

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