Woman accused of keeping $120K from Philando Castile fundraiser to repay unspent funds

A woman who allegedly failed to distribute $120,000 of the proceeds from a fundraiser named after Philando Castile will repay the missing money, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Monday.

Pamela Fergus will pay back the money to settle a lawsuit, which claimed she organized a fundraiser on the online platform YouCaring to pay St. Paul students’ school lunch debts; of the $200,000 raised, only $80,000 was actually donated. Fergus, a faculty member at a local college, launched the fundraiser as part of a semester-long service project for a class she taught.

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The charity was named Philando Feeds the Children in honor of Castile, a St. Paul Public Schools cafeteria worker who was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer during a 2016 traffic stop.

The outstanding $120,000 will be paid to the Attorney General’s Office, which will distribute the funds to St. Paul Public Schools to pay off lunch debts.

“Philando Castile cared deeply about the children he served, and the children loved him back. Failing to use every dollar raised to help those children was an insult to Philando’s legacy and all who loved him,” Ellison wrote in a statement. “This settlement helps right that wrong by continuing Philando’s commitment to serving students in need and ensures that the powerful impact he had during his life will continue to live as his legacy to the children and all of us.”

Fergus will start repaying the $120,000 by making monthly payments and will pay back the remainder within two years when she gains access to her retirement funds, the Attorney General’s Office said.

As part of the settlement, Fergus is also barred from managing a charitable fund in the future.