SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On Wednesday, Oct. 4, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick sent out an announcement that all donors of the Karen Eames “GoFundMe” page will be reimbursed soon.
The decision comes after Eames was sentenced to six months in jail in June after she admitted to helping her husband steal more than $500,000 from the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office. Eames also kept just under $100,000 in donations that were raised through a GoFundMe set up by Karen Eames’ sister not long after the family’s murder-suicide.
In June, Senior Assistant District Attorney Peter Hakes told NewsChannel 9 that his office was getting records from GoFundMe to issue refunds to donors in a timely manner.
That day is now here as Fitzpatrick announced his office will send out an email to nearly 1500 members of the community who donated money to Karen Eames.
“As recipients will see, the purpose of that email is to identify individuals who would like to be reimbursed for their donations to the ‘Help support Karen, Andrew and Troy’ fund on GoFundMe.org and to gather the information needed to put that money in their hands,” said Fitzpatrick.
The family’s murder-suicide happened on February 7, when former Onondaga County Sheriff’s Civil Deputy Isaac Eames shot and wounded his wife (Karen) and killed his son (Troy), his dog and himself.
“Soon after, the GoFundMe.org fund was established to benefit the survivors of this tragic event. In the days and weeks that followed, many members of our community donated to help the family deal with the aftermath of that terrible tragedy. Eventually, after an extensive investigation lasting several months, Karen Eames was arrested for her part in the theft and spending of more than five hundred thousand dollars of public money,” stated Fitzpatrick.
As the public became aware of the investigation and Eames was arrested, many donors called for the return of their donations, which Fitzpatrick said he made “a priority for my office.”
“As part of the resolution of her criminal and civil cases, Karen Eames gave to my office the unused portion of money that was donated to GoFundMe.org. Since that time, we have worked with GoFundMe to obtain a list of the donors and establish a system to return money to those that wish to be reimbursed. I am pleased to report that we are ready to move forward,” stated Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick said the email will provide information on who is eligible and how payment will be made. It will also provide a link to a “Request for Reimbursement form,” which donors can use to review their eligibility and submit their request.
“There are three important points I need to emphasize at this time. First, not everyone that donated will receive this email. Specifically, there are two groups of donors that are not eligible. The first group is donors who attempted to donate but whose donation was denied. The second group includes donors who obtained a refund from GoFundMe.org directly. Those individuals will not be contacted by my office. Only those donors who successfully donated and did not receive a refund from GoFundMe.org will be contacted by my office,” stated Fitzpatrick.
The deadline for donors to apply for reimbursement is Sunday, Oct. 22, at 11:59 p.m. Only requests for reimbursements that are received by that cut-off will be considered.
According to Fitzpatrick, Mrs. Eames turned over approximately 75-80% of the money that was donated to her, which means donors may not receive a full refund. The specific amount that will be provided to donors will be determined by dividing the available funds proportionately among those who request reimbursement.
Nearly 1,500 people have already been identified as donors, and due to the large number of donors, Fitzpatrick asks donors to review all of the information provided before contacting his office about the process. After reviewing all of the information provided, you can send questions to his office by sending an email to “DA.firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“For those who donated to this fund, I want to say two things. First, your willingness to help those in need is another great example of why Onondaga County is such a great place to live. Thank you,” stated Fitzpatrick.
If you do not receive the email in your primary inbox, it’s advised to check your email filters. If it has not shown up in your email by the end of the day Wednesday, you can email the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office at “DA.email@example.com.”