Police: Couple used kids in phony fundraising scam
TIVERTON, R.I. —
The house at 78 Merritt Avenue in Tiverton is now empty. The people lived there are gone, their whereabouts unknown.
The building official labeled the house unsafe last week because of the conditions inside.
Neighbor Pam Levakis told NBC 10, "They had so many cats that the house was despicable. It was disgusting. It was a horrific situation."
Tiverton Police said they are looking for the couple that lived there with their three kids.
Investigators have arrest warrants for Aaron Gelinas, 31, and Kimberly Leverett, 28, claiming the couple sent the kids out collecting money for what turned out to be a phony school fundraiser. The children are ages 12, 8, and 4.
"I was shocked. But I guess no good deed goes unpunished," neighbor John Barretto told NBC10. He was among those who gave money when one of the kids came knocking. "Gave me some spiel. He was kind of nervous. He was a little kidI gave him $5, figured it was for a good cause."
Neighbors say the kids were going around looking for money for a school bowl-a-thon fundraiser. Police say it didn't exist. And neighbors told NBC 10 it wasn't the first time the kids have gone around asking for money for questionable things.
"The kids were panhandling way before that," Levakis said. She says she would often help the kids with food and clothes. "The kids were dirty, had no clothes, nothing. They were hungry."
Levakis claims she had called police in the past to report the situation with Gelinas and Leverett.
Police want to charge the couple with obtaining money under false pretenses and child neglect.