No charges filed against St. Francis co-founder

Thursday, September 25, 2008 | 7:19 p.m. CDT; updated 8:22 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 25, 2008

COLUMBIA — No charges will be filed against Lana Jacobs, co-founder of the St. Francis Catholic Worker Community, in connection to allegations that she misused charitable funds, said Columbia police Sgt. Ken Hammond.

The St. Francis Catholic Worker community runs two homeless shelters in Columbia, the St. Francis House and the Lois Bryant House, as well as the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen.

In October 2007, members of the charity discovered some of the donations had not been used for their intended purposes.  They later confronted Jacobs, who said "the money was not used for her personal benefit, but that she had helped others in need by paying their rent, utility bills, and other assistance," according to a letter written by the other members in January, as previously reported by the Missourian.

The St. Francis Catholic Worker community wanted to perform an audit to determine whether or not any financial misconduct occurred. However, the charity's finances were disorganized, so the audit could not be conducted.

"We couldn't come up with any paperwork," said Steve Jacobs, another co-founder of the charity and Lana Jacobs' husband. The two are currently separated.

That lack of organized bookkeeping made it impossible for police to conduct an investigation, said Sgt. Ken Hammond of the Columbia police. "We were unable to come up with a foundation for the crime," he said. The investigation was "inactivated," he said.

In an effort to make their future records more transparent, the St. Francis Catholic Worker community no longer relies on a single person to handle financial matters. The charity members are now actively involved in monitoring funds.  "We review (the finances) every two weeks," said Steve Jacobs.

Jacobs has since left the charity. She now lives in St. Charles, Mo.

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