Don’t be fooled. Charities and faith based non-profits are cookie jars for Cherokee County and neighboring locals. No one cares where the money goes because of the fraudulent tax write-offs.
Azleway Boy’s Ranch QC Administrator Toni Rambo, 54, has been charged with stealing nearly $190,000 over a 5 year period. Rambo lives in Troup, TX located in northeastern Cherokee County bordering Smith County. The 50-acre child services facility housed at-risk boys ranging in ages 6 to 17 years-old and has operated for the last 40 years in the Tyler area. According to Smith County investigators, Rambo altered charity allowance records and pocketed the children’s funds beginning in 2015. (Source: KLTV)
Azleway, Inc. operates as a tax-exempt 501c3 nonprofit charity. The IRS allows donors to take a tax deduction for contributions of goods, cash and other assets. Cash pledges donated to the children living at the ranch were to be disbursed weekly based on good behavior. Cash receipts were provided to donating businesses and entities for tax purposes, while Rambo oversaw the agency bookkeeping.
One example given was a sheet showing a resident earned $7. Rambo then added $75 for an amount totaling $82 and kept the $75. (Source: Longview News Journal)
Forensic documents allege that Rambo misappropriated $48,049 in 2015, $53,546 in 2016, $42,969 in 2017, and $26,437 in 2018 (Source: KETX)
Rambo admitted to the scheme during an interview with administrators and attorneys. (Source: Tyler Paper) She is charged with 1st Degree Felony Theft and on out on a $300,000 bond.
Toni Marie Rambo, Troup TX, pleaded guilty to the theft of the nearly $200,000 on February 21, 2020 in Smith County’s 114 District Court. She will be sentenced on March 12. (Source: KETK)
Azleway Boy’s Ranch has been under legal scrutiny after allegations of abuse and inappropriate relationships between the staff and children were reported to State Protective Services. (Source: CBS 19) HHSC conducted 103 investigations between December 2016 and 2018 as the money poured in.
Among the documents are several allegations where residents were reported to have “sexually act out”, including an incident on November 12, 2018 where, “a child in care at the ranch was accused of raping another child.” There’s also several claims of boys being left unsupervised, resulting in injuries to some of the residents.
In one case, less than a month ago, “a child in care was able to gain access of a butcher knife in order to make threats of bodily harm.” Also among the claims investigated by HHSC are allegations into inappropriate behavior by caregivers at the ranch.
Caregivers are accused of exposing the boys to drugs like marijuana and to pornographic materials. In addition to that, several reports allege inappropriate punishment, threats of physical harm, and verbal abuse by the caregivers towards the residents. (Source: CBS 19)
Executive Director Gary Duke is leaving his post in January 2019. Azleway has since transitioned to a foster care facility and changed it name to Azleway Valley View. (Source: CBS 19)