Bodah family agrees to turn over $71K to fatal fire sole survivor
WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Relatives of the sole survivor of a fire that killed five members of her family have agreed to turn over more than $71,000 they raised on her behalf.
Earlier this month, state Attorney General Letitia James filed an action in state Supreme Court that claimed Hailey Bodah's aunt and two uncles failed to turn over money that was raised following the deaths of Hailey's father, Aaron, and her four sisters.
The five died in February when fire swept through their Myrtle Avenue home in Watertown. Hailey Bodah escaped to notify neighbors and call for help.
Travis Bodah, Aaron's brother, also lived there, but was not at home when the fire broke out.
In what’s called a “consent order and judgement” filed Wednesday, Aaron’s brother Kenneth Bodah and Kenneth’s wife, Beth Ann Bodah, agreed to turn the money over to the AG’s office within three days.
Kenneth and Beth Ann Bodah have agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty if they violate the consent order.
Community support after the fire led to roughly $100,000 that was raised and deposited in two bank accounts, according to Kenneth Bodah's affidavit.
According to the attorney general, Travis Bodah withdrew $35,000 of it for a check for Hailey Bodah.
The AG’s original filing shows that more than $5,300 from one of the accounts was used to buy a number of appliances from Lowe’s Home Improvement store and another $453 was used to make purchases at Wayfair.com, an online home furnishings store.
Another $9,300 was allegedly used to pay a church and a monument company.
In their affidavits, Kenneth and Beth Ann both say they have not received or spent any donated money other that what was described in the AG's filing.
They did acknowledge using gift cards from family, friends, and the American Red Cross that were not the result of fundraising.
Both wrote that “Our family was devastated by those losses, and we were grateful for the outpouring of community support in the days, weeks, and months that followed the fire."
Kenneth Bodah wrote that he "made every effort to safeguard those funds."
He alleges that he and Travis Bodah were the only signers on one of the accounts and he was the only signer on the other.
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