Lawrence pleads not guilty to two theft charges; jury trial set for September

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence | File photo by J. Robert Gough

QUINCY — Mark Lawrence pled not guilty during his arraignment Wednesday morning in Adams County Circuit Court on two theft charges following an indictment by an Adams County grand jury on May 12.

Lawrence appeared with his attorney, Don Schuering, before Associate Judge Roger Thomson on Wednesday. A status hearing was set for Aug. 17 before Thompson. A pre-trial hearing was set for Sept. 2, and a jury trial was set for Sept. 12, both before Associate Judge Jerry Hooker.  

Lawrence, 63, is charged with theft over $100,000, a Class 1 felony punishable for 4 to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, and theft over $10,000, a Class 2 felony punishable for 3 to 7 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. 

Lawrence and his wife, Chris Lawrence, were the founders of 2x4s for Hope, a local charity which builds homes for homeless and at-risk veterans. However, the organization’s board voted in November to remove Mark Lawrence as president and Chris Lawrence as treasurer. 

The 2x4s for Hope board also filed a civil suit against the Lawrences. Quincy attorney Gerry Timmerwilke filed a temporary restraining order on behalf of the board against the Lawrences to keep the couple away from the charity’s finances and property. Board members and associates removed 2×4s for Hope property — computers, tools, trailers and other construction equipment — from the Lawrences’ premises in Melrose Township, where most of it was stored.

Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha said learned about the problem when tools donated to 2×4s for Hope by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation — a Brookfield, Wis., company which develops, manufactures and markets power tools — began appearing at Jacksonville and Galesburg Warehouse Bargains stores. The tools were meant for use in the construction of houses for veterans.

Farha said an Illinois State Police investigation discovered Quincy Warehouse Bargains did not make out checks to 2×4s for Hope but to Mark Lawrence, who allegedly did not transfer the funds into the 2x4s for Hope accounts. Farha also said 2×4s for Hope allegedly wrote multiple checks for tens of thousands of dollars to Lawrence Construction, a business owned by Mark Lawrence that ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Lawrence was not named in the grand jury indictment.

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