AURORA, Colo. - A feud over a fund designed to collect money for a victim of the Aurora movie theater shooting has divided a family and even led to an investigation by the Colorado Attorney General's Office.
Farrah Soudani was wounded in the July 20 shooting. She lost her spleen, a kidney and has needed reconstructive surgery on her leg.
Soudani has no health insurance and two funds were created in the days after the shooting to help raise money for her medical bills.
A family friend, Victoria Albright, set up a fund that "raised a record amount of money in a very short time," said Heidi Begman-Soudani, Farrah's mother.
The fund was linked to a trust and has been managed by a professional, said Bergman-Soudani.
A second fund was set up by Farrah's cousin, Marty Soudani. The second fund, the family says, has been the problem.
Marty Soudani claims to have raised $95,000 for Farrah, with the intent to put the money into a trust fund. However, Farrah's parents say the money never made it into the trust and Marty Soudani has made no attempts to contact the family.
"I don't know if they're telling the truth or that the money is being pocketed," Farrah's father, Sam Soudani said.
"We sent them a request regarding Farrah's fund and they gave us basically no return. No answers," San Soudani said.
Farrah's parents said the trouble started when Farrah came home from the hospital.
She stayed with Marty Soudani for a few days but decided to stay with Albright, the family friend, instead.
The family said after that decision, Marty started sending them nasty messages and even mailed flyers smearing Albright's name to her neighbors.
"This is so ugly and so unnecessary," Bergman-Soudani said. "It's one tragedy on top of another for us."
The $95,000 raised by Marty Soudani has been refunded, Farrah's mother said. Farrah will get $560 because one donor put their money directly into the bank instead of donating to the site through PayPal, she said.
On the Facebook page linked to the fund created by Marty Soudani, organizers wrote, "We cannot, in good faith, raise money for a cause and then allow it to be used in any other fashion which we could not guarantee any longer."
"So, we are taking the moral and ethical high ground, and have chosen to return 100% of all money donated to be true to all of you," the announcement said.
Farrah's family said they do not know how all the donations will be refunded because many were given as cash donations at private parties, and even an auction, made by random attendees.
Sam Soudani said they have filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office claiming fraud.
"I think there is a legitimate case of fraud over here," he said.
Farrah said she is trying to focus on getting better and staying out of the mess.
"It's kind of hard not to think about," she said. "The hardest part is it being my closest family."
Farrah said she is comforted by the fact that Albright's fund has collected more than $170,000 and is being well managed.
"I can't begin to express my gratitude," Farrah said. "Everyone who sent me a letter, who just prayed for me, that means the world to me."
For more information on the Help Farrah Fund, set up by Victoria Albright, visit GoFundMe.com/Help-Farrah