Shawnee Tornado Victim Files Lawsuit Against Former Relief Worker

Thursday, November 6th 2014, 10:38 pm
By: News 9

A tornado victim who lost his home last year sues former disaster relief director Tonia Allen and the organization she represented.

Allen is already accused of stealing more than $70,000 from America's Disaster Relief.

It boils down to a land dispute in this case. Paul Allison says he paid Allen for a plot of land where he hoped to rebuild. But he says she played on his situation, his emotions, and his pocketbook.

“We're standing in our driveway. This use to be our driveway,” said Paul Allison.

Allison and his wife used to live in the Steelman Estates just outside of Shawnee. They'd like to come back home, but after more than a year, Allison says that seems almost impossible.

“She had us convinced, that yes, we're going to get us a home built. We were convinced,” said Allison. “I had full faith in her. I did.”

Allison is now suing Allen for more than $75,000. He says the former regional director of America's Disaster relief sold the lot, which he already secured with a $3,500 down payment, to another buyer for profit.

10/31/2014 Related Story: Tornado Relief Feud May Force Family From Home

“Tonia Allen came in here representing an organization and stole our money. We tried to get our money back. She wouldn't give us our money back. She said she would give us a lot. We never saw a lot,” said Allison.

Several weeks pass and Allison says still no deed to the property, and no word from Allen. He finally confronted her and says he was told the lot was sold for $12,000.

“We went to the DA and we filed our statements to file charges against her,” said Allison.

“They can charge me. They can arrest me. Sounds like it could be a good civil lawsuit for me,” said Allen.

News 9 sat down with Allen earlier this week and she's well aware she's being sued.

“I'm glad about that. I hope each and every homeowner sues America's Disaster Relief,” said Allen. “And if they need to sue me as well, I'm OK with that. Because the minute that Jan France (CEO of America's Disaster Relief) took this and blasted me to the public, she also stopped helping those families.”

Allen says she's confident the truth will come out.

“No one in disaster relief is innocent. I have said that since day one. Why would I say that to the media right now? It's almost like incriminating myself. It's not about that. Some people do everything they can do to keep their promise. And for the passion and for the commitment, my commitment was to get those houses built.”

“There's six houses built. The last three are in the last steps of completion. One, I've still been helping on. There's other people who do it for greed. I'm OK with the truth coming out, because anything and everything I've done, I've done it under the direct orders of Jan France. I have all the documentation to prove that.”

“We thought it was too good to be true,” said Allison.

Tonia Allen is under investigation by the Pottawattamie County Sheriff's office. So far, no charges have been filed. She denies the allegations.