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MOUNT MORRIS – A local woman who allegedly posed as a helpful neighbor to a family displaced by fire was arrested on Wednesday after a months-long investigation into an online community donation page she apparently set up for residents Robert and Smidge Stevens when their Main Street home was destroyed by a fire in early January.
According to a press release from Mount Morris Police Chief Ken Mignemi, Toni Ann Price, 47, of Mount Morris was arrested for Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Scheme to Defraud for allegedly stealing approximately $1,700 in online community donations that was intended to help the Stevens’ recover after being forced from their home by the fire.
On February 10, 2015 Mount Morris Police Officer Melody Moore took a complaint from the Stevens’ daughter, Shelly White, that Price had defrauded her parents through a GoFundMe.com fundraising account that Price had offered to set up for her parents.
The Steven’s house received extensive damage in the fire, and the Stevens were forced to leave the residence. Shortly thereafter, Price allegedly offered the family to start and oversee the GoFundMe account, which would collect donations online for the Steven’s family.
The GoFundMe.com page has since been taken down, and the Mount Morris Police Department proactively sought victims out on their website, still inviting anyone who thinks they may have donated to the page to contact their office at (585) 658-2155. The investigation was done in coordination with the Livingston County District Attorney’s Office.
Officer Moore and other members of the Mount Morris Police Department interviewed and deposed 16 individual victims that donated amounts of money ranging from $20 to $500 to the account, thinking the money would go to helping the Stevens’ rebuild and recover.
Price was arraigned in front of Judge James Lapiana, and released on her own recognizance.
PHOTO CAPTION: Top – Toni Price’s mugshot. Bottom – The photo from the fire scene originally filed on the GoFundMe.com page. (File photo)