BRADENTON (FOX 13) - Nancy Ambrose of Bradenton is in jail, accused of fraud for taking donation money for a charity that no longer existed.
She once led the Manasota Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. Since 2008, she has been in charge of maintaining the butterfly garden, but by 2014, complaints began to reveal there was a problem.
Helen Krug and a friend wanted to memorialize a loved one who'd passed away. So, in 2015, they purchased a brick that was to be placed at the butterfly garden in Holmes Beach.
”We sent the money in for the brick. She said, 'We'll notify you online and in and the mail when it's placed,'” Krug said.
After several months passed, she says, ”We've gotten no brick and I doubt very much we will.”
Others have reported similar issues. Holmes Beach police say Ambrose is to blame. Investigators say it turns out the chapter for which she was raising money was actually dissolved in 2011.
What's more, police say, at the time, the chapter wasn't legally registered as a charity with the state. That apparently didn't stop Ambrose from collecting donations or brick applications.
”I think it’s terrible that somebody does stuff like that,” Krug said.
Police say Ambrose even held numerous fundraisers using the NABA title collecting thousands of dollars; it continued thru November of last year.
"Obviously, if the allegations are true, that's very unfortunate and unsettling,” said Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association.
Ambrose is well-connected with other local groups. It’s unclear if there are any other investigations on-going.
She's in jail on $4,500 bond facing charges related to fraud and running an unlicensed charity.