Date: February 7, 2020
PEORIA, Ill. – The former national president of the not-for-profit organization Project Linus, Carol Babbitt, has been indicted on charges that she allegedly took more than $400,000 from the charity, when it was based in McLean County, Ill. The grand jury indicted Babbitt currently of Asheville, N.C. on Jan. 22, 2020, and the indictment remained sealed until Babbitt was arrested on Feb. 6, in Asheville.
Babbitt made her initial appearance in federal court in North Carolina this morning, Feb. 7, and was released from custody. The U.S. Clerk of the Court has set Feb. 13, 2020, for Babbitt to appear for arraignment in federal court in Peoria.
According to the indictment, in 1998, Babbitt began her involvement as a chapter coordinator with Project Linus, a not-for-profit organization that provides handmade blankets for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, and otherwise in need. Babbitt served as national president of the organization from 2000 to 2016. During that time, Babbitt lived in McLean County and the organization was also headquartered there.
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2010 and continuing to 2016, Babbitt defrauded the Project Linus organization, its volunteers and contributors, and the state of Illinois of approximately $400,000. As president, Babbitt controlled the organization's operations, including its bank accounts. Babbitt allegedly used Project Linus credit cards to pay for personal expenses, including clothing, electronics, pet grooming, furniture, tickets for sporting events, and personal travel. Babbitt allegedly used funds from the organization's operating account to make credit card payments, and falsely classified the personal expenditure in the business ledger to hide her personal use of the funds.
At various times, Babbitt allegedly represented that Project Linus was in extremely poor financial condition, and that because of the poor financial condition, others could not be reimbursed for their expenses. Because of the poor financial situation, Babbitt falsely represented to the board that she would take a pay cut or not take a salary at all. When questioned by the board of directors, Babbitt falsely stated that she was repaying Project Linus for her credit card purchases through payroll deductions. Babbitt did not disclose that she made the payments after taking more money than her salary from the organization, resulting in the organization repaying itself.
The indictment also alleges that Babbitt filed false and fraudulent personal tax returns with the state of Illinois in which she failed to report the funds she allegedly stole from Project Linus.
The charges are the result of investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Illinois Department of Revenue; and the Bloomington Police Department. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Darilynn J. Knauss is representing the government in the case prosecution.
If convicted, the statutory penalty for mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering is a maximum 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. The defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.