Lititz woman creates GoFundMe account for Florida family charged with keeping money for herself
LITITZ, Pa. – Nicole J. Leahy, of Lititz, is accused of creating a GoFundMe account for a Florida family and taking more than $500 raised for herself. Lititz Borough Police obtain a warrant for Leahy’s arrest following an investigation that began in April 2016.
According to the Criminal Complaint filed with District Justice Edward Tobin, the victim, a woman who lives in Port Saint Lucie, Florida contacted Lititz Borough Police to report that Leahy whom she knew through a Facebook support group for Mothers of Twin Children, had created a GoFundMe page claiming to raised funds for her deceased son. She told police that another member of the group informed her that a “Niki Leahy” from Lititz, Pa had created the GoFundMe account in December 2015, within a week of the passing of the victim’s son due to illness. She said that she did not have knowledge of the account, nor did she receive any of the proceeds from the fund which total $560.17. The victim said that at no time did she provide ‘Niki’ with her home address to send money. Investigators determined that ‘Niki Leahy’ was in fact 31 year old Nicole Leahy.
During an April 2016 interview at the Lititz Police Department Leahy said that she had come to know the victim through the Facebook support group for mothers with twin children. She admitted that she created the GoFundMe account with the intent to accumulate money to purchase gift cards for the victim and her family. Leahy said that she sent the victim a package which contained various gift cards via Certified mail and had received a receipt that the package was signed for. Police then wanted to know where she had sent the package because the victim had not provided an address. Leahy had no explanation. She was also unable to come up with the Certified mail return receipt. She also did not remember from which Post Office she mailed the package. Police then asked her produce copies of the receipts from the stores where she purchased the gift cards. Also the dates, times and specific stores from which the gift cards were purchased. Leahy said that she would be able to do so. She promised to return to the police department on April 29, 2015 with the receipts. Leahy failed to return on that day or subsequent dates with the receipts.
In June 2015, police obtained a search warrant requesting GoFundMe to provide information about the account. The warrant revealed that Leahy was the holder of the account and that the financial institution associated with the account belonged to the father of her children. A transaction history revealed that two withdrawals, December 8, 2015 for $523.93 and December 10, 2015 for $36.24.
During an interview on July 5, 2016 at the borough police department, with the father of Leahy’s children, he explained that Leahy did not have a checking account and that she asked him to utilize his bank account. He also confirmed the two December 2015 transactions. He also said that he was under the impression that Leahy was using the cash to purchase gift cards, flowers, etc, to send to the victim in Florida. He was not aware of nor could he confirm that anything was purchased with the money.
Lititz Borough Police charged Leahy with Theft by Deception on December 14, 2016. She was released after posting $25,000 bail to await a preliminary hearing on Friday, January 13. She waived that hearing and is now scheduled to appear for formal arraignment on February 10, 2016 at 9 a.m.