Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Scammers Allegedly Pocketed $131,000 Meant to Help Ohio Residents After Toxic Train Accident

The Fund had promised to use the contributions it received to provide "emergency aid and bottled water" since the Feb. 2 disaster
Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: April 12, 2023
Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 2023. The train accident sparked a massive fire and evacuation orders. No injuries or fatalities were reported after the 50-car train came off the tracks late February 3 near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border. The train was shipping cargo from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, when it derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. (Image: DUSTIN FRANZ/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 3,000 people donated money to an organization that pledged to help the residents of East Palestine, Ohio after the train derailment that sent a toxic mushroom cloud over the Northeastern U.S., but the charity organizer stole all but $10,000, a new lawsuit alleges.

Dave Yost, Attorney General of Ohio, alleges in the April 10 lawsuit that Mike Peppel used his nonprofit organization “Ohio Clean Water Fund” (Fund) to solicit $141,000 from donors, but “brazenly exploit[ed the] disaster situation and the good hearts of people who want to help” by pocketing most of the money instead.

The Fund had promised to use the contributions it received to provide “emergency aid and bottled water” since the Feb. 2 disaster, which saw water contaminated by the toxic fumes and people and animals suffer breathing ailments.

Peppel came to the AG’s attention when Second Harvest Food Bank, to which the Fund sent the $10,000, reported to Yost saying that they had not entered into any partnership with Peppel’s group; meanwhile, Peppel claimed that his Fund was officially working with the food bank.