Quincy Non-Profit Receives “Favorable” Sentence in Tool Theft Case

By Benjamin Cox on June 7, 2024 at 8:43am

The founder of the Quincy-based non-profit organization that builds tiny homes for veterans entered an Alford plea to one count of theft over $10,000 but less than $100,000 in Adams County court on Wednesday.

65-year old Mark S. Lawrence, founder of 2x4s for Hope, pleaded guilty to the single charge after he allegedly accepted money after selling tools donated to the group between Jan. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020.

An investigation by Illinois State Police and the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office allegedly showed that Lawrence stole and sold numerous tools that had been donated from the Milwaukee Tool Corporation to the non-profit for personal gain. The sold off tools were found at Jacksonville and Galesburg Warehouse Bargains stores.

ISP investigators said Lawrence received two checks for about $13,000 each, which were deposited into Lawrence’s Construction Company account rather than the non-profit’s business account. Had the case gone to trial, Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Eyler said the defense would have argued that a portion of the money would have been used to pay employees and for work being done for 2x4s for Hope.

Lawrence and his wife, Chris Lawrence, were abruptly removed from 2x4s for Hope on Nov. 15, 2021 and a no-contact order was placed on them by the group’s governing board.

By entering an Alford plea, Lawrence would have maintained his innocence but agreed the state had enough evidence to prove him guilty.

Lawrence was sentenced to 24 months of second-chance probation and must pay over $43,000 in restitution. Judge Charles H.W. Burch agreed with the negotiated plea deal, but Quincy media reports say that Burch called the negotiation a “fairly favorable outcome” for Lawrence due to no prison time.

Muddy River News reports that Lawrence’s history of serving veterans organizations and lack of prior criminal history were factored into the decision to agree to the plea.

Lawrence will also have to perform 30 hours of community service per the plea. A review of the probation is set for August 1st.