America's Disaster Relief Says Former State Director Mishandled Donation Money

Friday, July 11th 2014, 10:53 pm
By: News 9

A disaster relief organization helping tornado and wildfire victims across the state said money donated, more than $70,000 dollars is missing.

America’s Disaster Relief fired Tonia Allen, the woman leading the charity’s efforts in Oklahoma on Thursday. Allen was doing relief work in Bethel Acres, the scene of a deadly tornado, and most recently in Guthrie, where wildfires destroyed homes.

“We suspected something was wrong,” said Bethel Acres homeowner, Shirley Cox.

More than a year later, since tornados ripped through the Bethel Acres area, Cox and her family are still trying to get back in their home.

“I do think she had good intentions when all this started,” said Cox.

Last May, Cox and her husband signed a building contract with the now former State Director of America’s Disaster Relief, but they had a feeling something wasn’t right.

“We were ready to get out of the contract when these churches stepped up and started helping us,” said Cox.

The CEO of America’s Disaster Relief, Jan France said she’s been getting a lot of questions.

“I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls, texts, and emails from people telling me something is not right, and you need to check into this, and you need to check into that,” said France.

France said more than $70,000 dollars is unaccounted for in the organization's Oklahoma account. Funds were also transferred to the organization’s Texas account. She said both accounts are now overdrawn, allegedly by Allen.

“It’s just been devastating. I can’t tell you how much sleep I have lost,” said France. “There have been nights; I haven’t even gone to bed till 5:30, 6:00 in the morning.”

Allen raised red flags for the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce this past May. She wanted to help families there who lost their homes after the wildfire, and was quick to defend her reputation and the organization at that time.

“I think proof is more in your actions than your talk,” said Allen, during an interview with News 9’s Evan Anderson. “Call the Attorney General’s office, ask have we been investigated, check with the Secretary of State.”

News 9 did some checking and learned America’s Disaster Relief is a legally registered organization in the state, and there hadn’t been any negative reports against it, until now. The organization earned a Gold Rating from GuideStar for their openness and disclosure.

“It’s sad. It was so many people affected that need the help, and not just us,” said Cox.

Allen has until July 18th to hand over receipts, contracts, and other paperwork to the organization. France said she has yet to see any of those documentations.

Allen is not facing any criminal charges right now. News 9 reached out to Allen for a comment, but her phone was no longer accepting calls.

France said America’s Disaster Relief is currently in “recovery mode” itself.