mardi 10 mai 2011

Reno businessman under fire says plan to build houses for Haiti still under way

Despite losing the support of churches in Texas and Nevada and being sued, a Reno businessman said he plans to go forward with a plan to build some homes this month that will be shipped to help Haitian earthquake victims.

"We have a contractual obligation to fulfill these contracts for our sponsors," Mike Stickler, head of the nonprofit group Help Build Hope Haiti, said in a interview Friday. "As we sit here today, the build is going on."
Although most of the money he received from three Reno churches and four churches in the Dallas area was gone by February, Stickler said he has raised new funds for the build event on May 21 in Reno and has secured a new site in Haiti for the homes to be sent.
And he has new sponsors in Texas who want to participate in build events next year, he said. But he wouldn't reveal their names.
A Reno Gazette-Journal investigation published in April revealed that a year after Help Build Hope Haiti began gathering funds for their build events, many of the lead workers left claiming Stickler misused the funds, churches left when the money was gone, the Haiti contact in charge of securing the land said he hadn't been paid, and two groups filed lawsuits.
One of the suits filed in Texas said that Stickler made false claims to secure the funds -- an accusation Stickler denies. The other suit filed in Kentucky said the Help Build Hope name was trademarked and Stickler didn't have permission to use it.
Stickler said he plans to fight the suits, but as of Friday, he said he had not been served.
Since the RGJ stories were published, the Nevada Secretary of State's Office said it is working with the Nevada Attorney General's Office to look into Stickler's business practices to see if he had been involved in any "actionable conduct," secretary of state spokeswoman Pam duPre said.
And the Reno Police Department is investigating numerous bounced check claims against Stickler for possible fraud charges, police spokeswoman Michele Anderson said.
Pastor Paul Holland of the Cornerstone Foursquare Church in Sparks, which participated in a full sponsorship of $23,000, said they're done with the Haiti plan and don't plan to participate in the May 21 build.
"We're not involved at all as a church," Holland said. "There may be people, individuals, who may still want to be involved, but the church is not."
He said he didn't remember signing a contract to participate and said they were not expecting to get any the money back.
Stickler said that until he receives a cancellation notice from the sponsor churches, he considers them a part of the plan. As of Friday, Stickler said, none of the Reno churches have done so.


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