The co-founder of a Quincy-based group known for building tiny homes for veterans has been indicted on charges by an Adams County grand jury.
63 year old Mark Lawrence made his first appearance in Adams County Circuit Court yesterday morning after he was arrested on two theft charges following an indictment by an Adams County grand jury last Thursday. Bond was originally set at $200,000 when Lawrence’s arrest warrant was issued, but has since been lowered. Muddy River News reports that Lawrence was allowed the reduction in bond by the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office to continue working a job in Missouri.
Lawrence is charged with theft over $100,000, a Class 1 felony punishable for 4 to 15 years in prison, and theft over $10,000, punishable up to 3 to 7 years in prison. According to Muddy River News, Lawrence appeared along side private counsel yesterday morning.
Lawrence and his wife, Chris Lawrence, were the founders of 2x4s for Hope, a local charity which builds homes for homeless and at-risk veterans. However, the organization’s board voted in November to remove Mark Lawrence as president and Chris Lawrence as treasurer, according to WGEM.
The 2x4s for Hope board also filed a civil suit against the Lawrences. Quincy attorney Gerry Timmerwilke filed a temporary restraining order on behalf of the board against the Lawrences to keep the couple away from the charity’s finances and property. Board members and associates removed 2×4s for Hope property — computers, tools, trailers and other construction equipment — from the Lawrences’ premises in Melrose Township, where most of it was stored.
Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha confirmed in November the Illinois State Police was conducting an investigation.
Farha told the court he learned the problem when tools donated to 2×4s for Hope by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation — a Brookfield, Wis., company which develops, manufactures and markets power tools — began appearing at Jacksonville and Galesburg Warehouse Bargains stores. The tools were meant for use in the construction of houses for veterans.
Farha said Quincy Warehouse Bargains did not make out checks to 2×4s for Hope but to Mark Lawrence, who allegedly did not transfer the funds into the 2x4s for Hope accounts. Farha also said 2×4s for Hope allegedly wrote multiple checks for tens of thousands of dollars to Lawrence Construction, a business owned by Mark Lawrence that ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris Lawrence was not named in the grand jury indictment last week. Mark Lawrence’s arrest came one week after he and his wife filed a counterclaim to the civil lawsuit filed against the couple by 2x4s for Hope board. The Lawrences are claiming the charges against them are false and are claiming defamation and asking for $100,000 in damages for each of the 6 board members.
Lawrence is next due in court on June 1st.