HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A charity formed after the shooting massacreat Sandy Hook Elementary School has been unable to account for more than$70,000 it raised through marathon running, one of its co-founders saidFriday.
Ryan Graney, of Nashville, Tenn., said only $30,000 ofthe $103,000 taken in by the 26.4.26 Foundation was used for theorganization's purpose. That money was presented last January byco-founder Robbie Bruce to the nonprofit NYA, a youth sports center inNewtown, where the December 2012 shooting occurred.
Graney said Bruce was in charge of the organization's finances but has cut off contact with her.
Brucedidn't return repeated telephone messages from the Associated Press,including one left with his sister. Public records list Bruce's addressas an apartment in a gated complex on the southern outskirts ofNashville. No one answered the door there Friday afternoon.
Anonline biography lists Bruce, an endurance athlete, as co-founder ofNashville-based X3 Endurance, a fitness training company, which had alink to the foundation on its website. But Eddie Ferrell, anotherco-founder of that company, said it ended its relationship with Brucealmost a year ago and his whereabouts are unknown.
The idea behindthe 26.4.26 Foundation was for runners to participate in marathons,raising money for each of the 26 miles they ran and dedicating each mileto one of the 26 victims of the school shooting - 20 children and sixeducators. The fundraising effort was featured in Runner's Worldmagazine and was the subject of several local news stories.
Thegroup held its first marathon in Nashville a week after the shooting,with more than 1,000 participants. Another was held in New Hampshirelast April. More than 1,400 runners raised about $22,000 for thefoundation, organizers said. The charity also received donations fromrunners in other events, Graney said.
Graney said she noticedsomething was amiss last spring, when she discovered suspicious chargesto the foundation's PayPal account.
"I saw there was $1,200 billedfor paddle boards," she said. "I went on (Bruce's) Instagram page, andhe had posted a picture of a paddle board in the back of his truck."
Graneysaid she confronted Bruce and he promised to meet her and go over theorganization's finances. She said he never showed up and then cut offcontact with her in September.
She said she filed complaints withthe FBI and the Tennessee attorney general's office, which said theydon't comment on ongoing investigations.
Graney said thefoundation, registered as a nonprofit corporation in Tennessee, hadvirtually no overhead or other expenses that would justify not givingthe vast majority of the proceeds to the people of Newtown.
"I am in tears, sick about this," Graney said by telephone Friday.
Theattorney general's office in Connecticut, which has been keeping trackof charities that sprang up after the shooting, said it had no knowledgeof the foundation.
The NYA's executive director, Dorrie Carolan,said her organization "graciously accepted a check in the amount of$30,000, which cleared shortly after it was received."
LeighMelia, who lives in Lebanon, 70 miles east of Newtown, ran 3 miles ofthe New Hampshire race as part of a relay team with a group of teachersand her then-7-year-old daughter. She said each mile was dedicated to adifferent Sandy Hook victim and she explained to her daughter who theywere as they ran.
"When I ran, I thought the money was going tothose victims and their families," she said, adding she feels someoneshould be held accountable now that the money has gone missing.
Graney said her hope is publicizing the problem will help get the money to where it belongs.