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Layla Aiken's family speaks out about fundraiser fraud

Posted at 6:17 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 18:17:57-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The death of 8-year-old Layla Aiken brought the Southwest Florida community together.

Aiken was hit and killed while waiting for the school bus last March.

One of the main causes getting traction was Lights for Layla, a fundraiser Randi Romanoff told Fox 4 she started last year.

“It’s dark outside. We can’t see what’s in front of us, let alone a little girl sitting in the grass,” she said in a 2019 interview.

But Thursday, her head hung low as a judge read her charges in court. She claims the $72,000 raised was intended to install more streetlights at bus stops. But, Cape Coral Police say none of that happened. They say instead, Romanoff spent it on attorney’s fees, resorts, Xbox purchases and large cash withdrawals.

Layla Aiken’s older cousin Rachel Ortiz said the alleged crimes disgrace Layla’s name.

“This is just one of those reasons why people don’t donate to charities. They don’t know where the money is going,” she said.

Ortiz doesn’t think Romanoff acted alone.

“Where did the money go? I think is like the question to ask. Who all was involved. If multiple names were on this, then multiple people saw the money coming in, and multiple people saw the money coming out,” she said.

A judge set Romanoff’s bond to $65,000. She’s also facing previous charges of probation violation.