Leesburg, GA — After setting up a GoFundMe page for the family of a police officer who died earlier this year, an ex-cop was recently arrested for stealing over $17,000 in donations. Although the contributions were intended to cover the officer’s medical and funeral expenses, his widow and their two young children never received the money.
Challenged with health problems for a year, Pelham Police Officer John Mucci, 29, passed away on April 3, leaving behind a wife, a young daughter, and a newly born son. Offering to help the family, former police officer David Hans Smith, 43, created a GoFundMe account claiming to collect donations for Mucci’s medical bills and funeral costs. Links to the GoFundMe page immediately appeared in memorial sites, articles, and on Facebook.
“I’m heartbroken, I’m shocked. To have just talking to someone and, and then to know that they’re gone,” Smith told WTVM hours after setting up the GoFundMe page.
Although Mucci and Smith served together at the Warwick Police Department, Mucci’s widow asserts that they were not close friends. Before leaving the force, Smith previously worked with the Smithville Police Department, the Terrell County Sheriff’s Office, Lumpkin Police, Unadilla Police, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Raising $19,320 in donations, the GoFundMe page was shut down on Thursday after Smith was arrested in Leesburg. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Mucci’s family never received any of the money because Smith allegedly stole over $17,000 for himself. Although the GBI has accused Smith of diverting the money for personal use, investigators still do not know what the ex-cop did with the stolen funds.
Doubtful that the family will ever see any of the missing donations, the police department has offered to accept contributions for Mucci’s widow and children. Pelham Police Officer Adam Lamb stated, “Yes, they can contact me, Adam Lamb, at the Pelham Police Department, and I assure you she will get whatever anybody sends her.”
In contrast, Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley recently created a GoFundMe page to cover the funeral costs for a married couple killed in a car accident on Halloween night, leaving their four children orphaned. Instead of raising their goal of $7,000 to cover funeral expenses, the fund has reached over $400,000 while Ivory Chevrolet in Union City gave the family a 2014 Town and Chrysler minivan. The children now live with relatives in Florida, and Bradley has not been accused of stealing a dime from them.