Second Harvest Receives $138K Recovered from Scam

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley has received $138,982 in donations that were recovered from a scam that solicited money under the guise of aiding East Palestine residents.

The food bank can now begin using the funds to help those in need in East Palestine after the Feb. 3 train derailment in the village, a news release states.

The Ohio Clean Water Fund and one of its founders, Mike Peppel, claimed to be collecting donations on behalf of Second Harvest to provide residents of East Palestine with emergency aid and bottled water.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office began investigating the Ohio Clean Water Fund, Peppel and the organization’s fundraiser after a complaint from Second Harvest officials, who said they never gave the Ohio Clean Water Fund permission to raise money in the food bank’s name.

An investigation revealed that Peppel and his associates diverted at least $131,000 of the $141,000 raised from over 3,000 donors for personal gains.

“I extend my sincerest praise and gratitude to Second Harvest for their diligent support in identifying and shutting down the Ohio Clean Water Fund,” Yost said. “The fraudulent charity shamelessly exploited the food bank’s name and reputation, taking advantage of Ohioans’ generosity in the wake of an environmental disaster.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.