Donnybrook woman charged in fake Make-a-Wish campaign

Published: Apr. 10, 2019 at 4:38 PM CDT
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A Donnybrook woman faces a series of charges of fraud and forgery on accusations she made up a Make-a-Wish campaign to raise funds for a new playground.

Ward County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 33-year-old Kristin Keel Wednesday on two counts of forgery, one count of false information, and one count of fraudulent or misleading communications. Three of the charges are C-felonies.

Investigators found a Make-a-Wish contract aimed at providing the city of Donnybrook with new playground equipment, under the condition the town’s current equipment not be sold for profit. The campaign was to grant a wish in the name of a child suffering a serious medical condition.

The sheriff’s department says Make-a-Wish has no records of the campaign. It’s unclear at this time if the child in the wish campaign exists.

Investigators also say Keel, a member of the Donnybrook Park Board, presented the fraudulent contract to the board, which had been advertising the current equipment for donation.

The board has been notified of the case and has not donated the current equipment.

Investigators first learned of the situation when Keel herself contacted them about a fake Facebook account to solicit funds without her consent.

Keel has since bonded out, according to court records. A court appearance has not been scheduled yet.

Make-a-Wish North Dakota released the following statement in regards to the investigation into Kristin Keel:

When you make the generous decision to support Make-A-Wish, we want your donation to count. If you notice any red flags when being asked to donate, please call your local Make-A-Wish office at 701.280.9474 to verify that your hard-earned money is going to help grant the life-changing wish of every eligible child in North Dakota.

The Donnybrook Park Board released the following statement:

The Donnybrook Park Board has been made aware of the charges filed against Kristin Keel. The board had no knowledge that the information being provided to them was false and is very disappointed to have someone come in and take advantage of our small, tight-knit community.

Donnybrook City Auditor Nicole Michalenko says they held a meeting last week to discuss how to proceed with removing Keel from the Park Board, though Keel did not attend the meeting.

The board is consulting an attorney to figure out the next steps in removing her.

Keel was appointed to the board last year after another member relocated.