AURORA, Colo. – Justin Racine, 22, has been arrested after accusations that he raided a GoFundMe account of more than $3,500 he set up to raise money for his friend’s funeral.
Justin "JJ" Owens, 22, died in a motorcycle accident on Memorial day in Denver, and hundreds of brokenhearted friends attended the funeral services.
To honor him, friends contributed to a GoFundMe account set up to pay for funeral expenses. They donated more than $3,500 to the fund. But from the start, there were concerns about Racine, who set up the account.
Records state Racine has a history of drug- and theft-related arrests.
"I’ve seen people do bad things in their lives, but I’ve never seen anyone be this disrespectful," said Ashley Marcell, who donated $100 for JJ's funeral fund. "That money was for his family to use in whichever way they needed to help them during a hard time, not for someone to go play."
An affidavit alleges that Racine never gave the money to Owens’ family as he claimed.
He told Owens’ mother that he left the cash under a doormat on his front porch before hopping a plane to Italy.
However, bank records pulled by detectives show Racine had spent the money.
"The various charges/purchases included, but no limited to, King Soopers, Walgreens, "Wal-Sams," Groupon, gas stations, fast food purchases, clothing stores, Apple iTunes and at least one liquor store," states the affidavit. "In addition... a number of debit card purchases were made at DIA and JFK Airports, as well as a foreign exchange/transaction charge."
Owen's mother, Carol Owens, said she is relieved by the arrest and wants to warn others to make sure funds donated go to the people intended.
"It’s not about the money for me," she said. "It’s about justice and my son’s name and about his friends."
Racine is facing charges of theft and computer crime. He was booked into the Arapahoe County Jail and has since bonded out.
He is scheduled to be in court Dec. 7.
He refused to be interviewed, but stated in a phone call that he had been framed and the money had been stolen from under the doormat.
GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne told Denver7 in an email that fraudulent campaigns make up less than one-tenth of one percent of all campaigns.