BUHL - Police in Buhl arrested a couple Saturday for allegedly raising money for their daughter, who they said was being treated for leukemia in Seattle.
On Saturday, Lisa Dawn Holley and Michael Wayne Holley were arrested by Buhl police at the Valley Country store, the site of a planned car wash and raffle fundraiser to help raise funds for the girl, who police say does not have cancer.
Both were charged with grand theft by deception and are being held at the Twin Falls County Jail, Lisa on a $5,000 bond and Michael on a $50,000 bond.
Buhl Police Chief Eric Foster said the two were arrested during the car wash with donors present.
“They did wash some cars before we came in,”Foster said.
The couple’s alleged deception was discovered after a neighbor called police last Thursday, a police report states. According to the report, the woman said she and her family had a barbecue with the Holleys on July 4. During the barbecue, the woman said the two brought up their 14-year-old daughter who lives in Seattle with relatives who have cus-tody of her, the report states. The Holleys said their daughter had a mental disorder. On Aug. 22, the woman told police Lisa Holley contacted her and said she and her husband wanted to hold a car wash to raise money in order to get custody of the girl, according to the report.
The woman contacted police after reading an article in the Buhl Herald about how the Holleys were holding a fundraiser to raise money for their daughter who was diagnosed with leukemia and was being treated at a hospital in Seattle.
Police contacted the relatives in Seattle and confirmed the girl was not being treated at any hospital for leukemia or any other condition, including her mental disorder, the report states. The relatives also told police the girl was removed from Lisa Holley’s care by Health and Welfare in Yakima County, Wash., and a no contact order, including phone calls, was in place, the report states.
According to the report, the article in the Buhl Herald stated people could get their cars washed and purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win an emergency kit or alignment check at Les Schwab tires. Other prizes were also donated by Napa Auto Parts, King’s, Don’s Thriftway, Garabaldi’s Mexican Restaurant, Jackson’s Kountry Korner, La Plaza and Ridley’s Market, the report states.
According to the report, there was also a flier in support of the car wash posted at the Buhl Police Department. That flier stated 4-H students and a Methodist church youth group would be washing the cars and listed sponsors for the event.
On Saturday, undercover detectives from Idaho State Police spoke to Lisa Holley saying they wanted to donate $1,200 to her daughter’s medical bills.
According to the report, detectives told the woman multiple times they wanted to make sure the donation would go to the girl’s cancer treatment bills. Both Michael and Lisa Holley stated the money would go to cover medical costs because of their daughter’s cancer, the report states.
Shortly after the two confirmed the money would go to the girl’s medical bills, Buhl po-lice officers moved in and arrested both parents.
Officers were able to find the items donated from several stores along with gift certifi-cates worth about $310, the report states.
Once in custody, Michael Holley allegedly told officers it wasn’t his intent to defraud anyone and said the money was not going to pay for medical treatment, but to help pay a lawyer fee of $750 to help get custody of their daughter.
After the Holleys were arrested, police contacted the managers and owners of the stores that donated funds. According to the report, all had similar stories of a woman coming in asking for donations to help her daughter who was ill.
“We don’t know how far reaching this goes,” Chief Foster said. “Right now, both officers from our department and Idaho State Police are doing follow up interviews.”
Continued investigation and additional information will tell law enforcement if they caught the allegedly false fundraiser before it got too big, Foster said. Police believe many people who helped the Holleys were not accomplices and believed their story.
“We’re starting to hear from more people that they fell victim to the story,” he said. “They wanted to help people in need.”