A husband and wife from Bonita were sentenced Friday to prison terms ranging from nine to 15 months for soliciting donations of clothing and other items from companies — supposedly for charity — then reselling the items and using the proceeds for personal use.
Geraldine Hill, 60, and Clayton Hill, 59, co-founders of On Your Feet Inc., also known as the Family Resource Center, pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges for reselling items that were supposedly going to benefit low-income families and individuals.
Geraldine Hill was sentenced to the 15-month term, and her husband to nine months behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Between 2011 and 2016, the couple received proceeds exceeding $1.3 million from the fraud, according to prosecutors, who said the Hills spent the money for luxury retail purchases, vacations, entertainment, vehicles — including a $124,000 Mercedes-Benz — rent on a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home, and donations to their church.
Multiple companies, including Forever 21, Feed the Children, Brooks Sports and Goods360, donated millions of dollars’ worth of goods to the charity.
Prosecutors said the couple also committed other fraudulent acts such as falsifying pay stubs to claim Clayton Hill earned a salary of more than $100,000 in order to apply to rent the seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home for $6,000 per month.
The couple also filed fraudulent tax returns in order to hide income, and avoided paying more than $50,000 in taxes in 2013 and 2014 as a result.
In addition to prison, the Hills were ordered to pay $50,933 in restitution to the IRS.
“Geraldine and Clayton Hill abused the generosity of charitable donors and used their nonprofit charity organization as their personal bank account,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Although all tax evasion is serious, the conduct by the Hills is particularly offensive because they have undermined the faith of donors in charitable giving.”
— City News Service