mercredi 18 mai 2011

Man accused of fraud in Haiti project cancels Reno house-building event

A Reno businessman accused in a lawsuit and by former employees of defrauding churches and individuals in a plan to build homes in the U.S. and ship them to Haitian earthquake victims has canceled a house-building event planned for Saturday in Reno.

Mike Stickler said Monday that he has sent refunds to the people who registered on his website for the Help Build Hope Haiti project and paid a $57 or $67 fee. The Reno Gazette-Journal was not able to confirm this claim.
Reno churches that signed up as sponsors and gave between $12,500 to $23,000 said they have not been reimbursed.
Stickler declined to say how many people had signed on, but said it was fewer than the 200 that would be needed “to make a viable build.” The “sponsors” — those who signed contracts to participate and contributed at a higher rate — would be refunded according to their contracts, he said.
Stickler’s decision follows a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation published in April that found that a year after he began gathering funds for his Haiti home-building group, most of the money was gone and many of the lead workers and churches quit the project claiming Stickler misused the funds.
Despite the controversy, Stickler said on May 6 that he planned to go forward with the build event in Reno, but on Sunday he sent an email saying it wasn’t going to happen.
He said his group would continue with the project “and the future city-builds over the next five years.”
“Our goal to build 5,000 homes for those in dire need continues,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Reno Police Department is investigating bounced-check claims against Stickler, and the Nevada Secretary of State’s office is working with the Attorney General’s office on an investigation into Stickler’s business practices.
Two Texas groups that had put up $23,000 each for the project have filed a lawsuit against Stickler claiming he made false claims to secure the funds and a Kentucky group sued Stickler claiming he did not have permission to use the Help Build Hope trademarked name.

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