A charity focusing on helping veterans by building tiny houses is all a scam, according to a lawsuit filed by the Illinois attorney general.
Todd Olshefski and his wife Priscilla are the founders of the Lombard-based charity Veterans Christian Network. The attorney general's office alleges that the Olshefskis misappropriated more than $10,000 from the charity.
“That $10,000 was not donations, we have documented proof of that, that was our own money we invested into the organization," Todd Olshefski said Thursday.
According to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul's complaint, in March 2018 the couple began soliciting donations to support programs for veterans returning from combat.
Raoul alleges the charity failed to register with the attorney general’s office and failed to file reports accounting for network's charitable activities.
The couple, wearing military fatigues, collected funds by panhandling in Wheaton. They say the money raised will build homes for veterans.
"We did get a little money, but we saved it, we didn’t use it for our own personal use," Priscilla Olshefski said. "We didn’t get rich out there, it was hard."
However, an investigation by Raoul’s office found that of $28,000 collected and deposited, it was unclear whether any money was used for programs benefiting veterans.
Steven Fixler, of the DuPage County Veterans Assistance Commission, said the lawsuit reveals who the Olshefskis are.
"I heard some mumbles and grumbles throughout the community about them and when I heard about the lawsuit it really opened my eyes about them," he said.
The Olshefski’s admit they used some of the funds but don’t believe they did anything wrong.
"We did use some of that money to assist us so we can keep a roof over our heads and have food on the table," Olshefski said.
The couple says they want to meet with Raoul to figure out a way to continue operating. They may meet with a judge first, as they could also face charges from Wheaton police.