TROY, N.Y. — A 26-year-old woman from Troy, N.Y., was arraigned on charges related to defrauding a Boston Marathon relief fund out of $480,000, authorities said Friday.
Audrea Gause was charged with larceny of more than $250 by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. She was arraigned in Troy on the charge of being a felony fugitive.
According to Coakley, on June 3, officials at the Boston One Fund, a charity organization dedicated to helping victims of the bombing, received a detailed and notarized claim from Gause including medical records indicating she spent two days at the Boston Medical Center Hospital and an additional 10 days at a hospital in Albany, N.Y.
The claim allegedly said she experienced long-term memory loss, impaired speech, and loss of some motor function that would require future surgery as a result of the bombing. It appears Gause was able to duplicate the medical paperwork due to a prior stay at Albany Medical Center Hospital. The submitted six pages of documents to the relief organization had proper letterheads, dates, doctors' names, and logos.
One Fund approved payment on June 28, Coakley said.
“I think it is outrageous that even with their due diligence and their care to give money to the victims there are those out there who would defraud One Fund," said Coakley
According to police, the payment from One Fund Boston was deposited in a local bank account on July 1. Gause later tried to withdraw $400,000 unsuccessfully, but eventually did withdraw in excess of $377,500, which she transported in a paper bag, said Troy police Capt. John Cooney.
He said she then approached Robert Marini Builders about purchasing property and building a home in Clifton Park.
“This is clear cut theft,' said Cooney, noting the extensive investigation over the past week conducted by Massachusetts authorities. He said that her buying a house “out of nowhere' particularly singled her out as a suspect.
Gause allegedly made multiple Facebook posts about receiving the money and what she planned to do with the new-found cash. Authorities used the social media site during their investigation and police are currently looking into the possible involvement of Gause's boyfriend since she thanked him for his help in a Facebook post, said Cooney, who did not disclose the boyfriend's name.
Troy police were alerted to Gause's possible involvement in the fraud on Thursday, he said.
“She is not a stranger to our department,' said Cooney, noting prior offenses with document fraud and fake checks.
Police expect that all of the $480,000 will be recovered since the home builder had not taken payment, Cooney stated. As of Friday, The One Fund had raised more than $64 million to help victims of the bombing and their families.
Gause was sent to the Rensselaer County Jail without bail. She will be back in court on Tuesday where it will be determined if she waives extradition to Massachusetts. If she does not, it could take up to two weeks to process the paperwork to forcibly bring her to Boston to face the charges.