Woman Charged With Stealing Christmas Funds For Needy Children

Suspect And Accomplice Spent $1,500 Money Raised For Kids

Every year, Kenly Area Ministries (KAM) reaches out to needy families in their community to provide Christmas presents for their children.  Last year, the non-profit organization raised enough donations to help 93 children. In December, parents and guardians of the children accompanied KAM volunteers to the Rosewood Walmart where they were given $95 per child to buy them something for Christmas.

One of the parents being helped was 21 year-old Ulexus Alantra Torres.  During the trip – just days before Christmas – Torres was allegedly able to steal a total of $1,500 in Walmart gift cards in the possession of a KAM volunteer.  Within hours, all the funds on the stolen gift cards were used to buy merchandise at Walmart stores in Smithfield and Wilson.

Smithfield Police obtained security video of the transactions. KAM volunteers were able to identify Torres as one of the suspects.  The second suspect was identified by police as 27 year-old Marquell Dequan Godwin.

Pastor George Arant, a Kenly Area Ministries board member, told JoCoReport, “We are praying for the man and the woman that some good can come out of all of it.”

Pastor Arant said KAM received additional private donations to make up for the stolen $1,500 in gift cards. Without the additional donations, 15 of the 93 children could have gone without a Christmas present.

Ulexus Torres was arrested on January 24th by Smithfield Police. Marquell Godwin was located on February 7th by Kenly Police and arrested. Both were charged with obtaining property by false pretenses.

Arant said the suspects have not been in contact with Kenly Area Ministries since their arrests, nor have they attempted to return the stolen funds.  Trial dates for Torres and Godwin are still pending in Johnston County Court.