CARMICHAEL -- A nonprofit veterans organization was cheated out of thousands of dollars after the money from a local fundraiser was mishandled, some claim intentionally so.
Jessica Rivera and Donnie Rochin helped to plan an event that stood at the intersection of their two, shared passions -- classic cars, and helping veterans. The “Vehicles for Vets” event on April 30 turned out better than they'd expected.
"Astonishing, it was more than I would've ever expected from a first show,” said Rivera.
Organizers raised $4,100 for the DV (Disabled Vets) Farm, a New Hampshire based nonprofit that provides housing, rehab and therapy to vets.
But Rivera and Rochin's excitement didn't last long.
"How could you do this to veterans, after everything they do for us?” said Rivera.
She says she became suspicious of foul play because DV Farm puts out a public thank you for every donation it receives. When no "thank you" went out for the Vehicles for Vets event, she reached out to the organization herself, and found out that weeks later, they'd still never gotten paid.
"The money was spent,” said Rochin.
He says the event was put on with the help of a company called BasketCase, run by Sherie Brooks, out of Carmichael. Brooks was trusted to send the money raised to the veterans at DV Farm. That never happened.
Instead, Rochin says, two of Brooks' associates told him she spent the money. Brooks hadn't been answering calls from officials at DV Farm.
FOX40 went to Brooks’ home, where she gave the following statement:
"It was misappropriated. It's being rectified and will be returned,” said Brooks.
She refused to answer any questions about how the money was used, where it was or why it has taken so long for her to acknowledge the issue.
Her short answer was not enough to satisfy Rivera or Rochin.
"They banked on that money to help them out, basically,” said Rivera of DV Farm.
"Those are my brothers and sisters who need help. They aren't getting it from the VA, they aren't getting it from other organizations. DV Farm is there to give them that help up,” said Rochin.
"How can someone do that to veterans -- knowing it's going to veterans that need the help,” said Rivera.
The two have set up a GoFundMe to recoup some of the losses for the veterans for whom the money was originally intended.