Clark County crime bust turns into donations to charities

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
More than $11,000 in gifts cards seized from a Springfield pawn shop that was illegally buying the cards will be handed out to charities across the Clark County community.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

What was once deemed “dirty money” is now being given a new life to fund charities in Springfield and Clark County.

More than $11,000 in gift cards was seized from a Springfield pawn shop last year, and now the Clark County Sheriff’s Office is giving them away for good deeds.

“This is going to be wonderful — we won’t have to worry about getting around,” said Bonita Mills as she was handed $2,000 in Speedway gift cards Tuesday morning.

Sheriff Gene Kelly presented Mills, who runs Family Needs Community Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry, 36 E.Grand Ave., with the gas cards as part of the plan to give the gift cards to local organizations.

Family Needs — run by Mills, her husband, and Ella Barnes, of Springfield — is a food pantry/soup kitchen and helps by giving and delivering donations to people across Springfield.

The gas cards will fund the charity’s cost of fuel for more than a year, Barnes said, because the group usually spend $100 a month on gas.

The organization runs on donations, Mills said, but often those involved paid for gas out of their own pockets.

The sheriff’s office plans to give to local organizations that benefit veterans and seniors the thousands of dollars they still have in the cards, Kelly said.

Sheriff's deputies seized the gift cards in January 2015 after Chris Haggy, the owner of the Pawn Star Pawn Shop, 2819 E. Main St., pleaded no contest to charges of violating state pawn broker laws.

Haggy was “buying” gift cards for cash on pennies on the dollar, Kelly said, and then pocketing the cards for himself.

Pawn shops must record and report all pawn deals to local and state authorities, but Haggy was not doing that with the gift cards.

He pleaded no contest in the misdemeanor case and the cards were forfeited by the courts, but mandated the Clark County Sheriff’s Office donate the cards to charities in the community, Kelly said.

It is not illegal for stores or pawn shop to buy gift cards from people, Kelly said, although many gift card transactions are the result of the drug problem in communities.

People steal and use stolen money or credit cards to purchase gift cards and then sell the cards for cash to buy drugs, investigators said.

But if people want to sell their gift cards, they should make sure the seller is following state pawn codes, Kelly said, and can report stores that are not.