A professor claimed she was raising money in Philando Castile’s honor to help pay off school lunch debt, but officials say more than half the funds are missing.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office announced the action against Pamela Fergus this week. They filed a criminal complaint against the woman and the organization “Philando Feeds the Children.”
Police shot Castile during a traffic stop in 2016 at close range. His girlfriend and young child were also in the car. Video of the immediate aftermath of the shooting was posted on social media and the footage sparked national outrage.
The officer was charged with manslaughter but acquitted of the charges.
Castile worked as a nutrition supervisor at a St. Paul school and Fergus was a college professor who started the fundraiser via crowdsourcing. She promised that every dollar would go to paying off lunch debt of elementary school students, according to the attorney general’s office.
The fundraiser had a goal of $90,000 but generated $200,000 in donations. The campaign was featured in various media reports as well.
Officials for St. Paul schools say only $80,000 has been paid by the organization.
In 2020, Castile’s mom reported concerns with “Philando Feeds the Children” to the attorney general’s office. Officials contacted Fergus, who said the amount raised was actually $80,000 and not $200,000. The difference was due to “administrative fees charged by the funding sites” and “bad donations,” Fergus claimed, according to the attorney general’s office.
Fergus admitted she didn’t keep financial accounting for the fundraiser, and the money was deposited into her checking account. Fergus denied investigators access to her bank account records.
Late last year, the attorney general’s office tried to force compliance with their requests and Fergus invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, according to the attorney general’s office.
Of the $200,00 raised, roughly $120,000 remains unaccounted for, officials said.