Lawrence set to enter plea after being charged with stealing from veterans organization

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence at a 2X4's for Hope home build launch in November 2021, just days before the organization's board removed him and wife with from its leadership posts. — MRN FILE PHOTO

QUINCY — Mark Lawrence, who with his wife founded the 2X4’s for Hope charity, is scheduled to enter a plea next month.

Assistant State’s Attorney Todd Eyler said Lawrence, 65, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court Wednesday morning and that Lawrence has tentatively agreed to a plea. Eyler said he could not comment on the terms as Lawrence has not yet signed the deal’s formal documentation.

Lawrence’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 5.

Lawrence was indicted on the one count of theft over $100,000 and one count of theft over $10,000 in May 2022. He was accused of taking construction equipment that was donated to the tiny home building charity and selling it for personal gain as well as stealing the charity’s funds. He pleaded not guilty June 1, 2022.

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 2021 to remove Mark Lawrence as president and his wife, Chris Lawrence, as treasurer. 

The 2x4s for Hope board also filed a civil suit against the Lawrences. Quincy attorney Jerry 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. 

Days later, 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.

The Lawrence’s almost immediately attempted to countersue the six board members, but that effort was dropped in Sept. 2023.

Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha said he learned about the situation 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 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.

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