Trial for co-founder of 2x4s for Hope set for July

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence | File photo by J. Robert Gough

QUINCY — A trial for the co-founder of a local charity charged with two counts of theft is set for this summer.

Judge Robert Adrian set July 10 for the jury trial of Mark Lawrence, who appeared Wednesday morning with attorney Don Schuering in Adams County Circuit Court. The trial will be held before Judge Timothy Wessel, with a pre-trial set for June 30.

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 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. 

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 he 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.

An Adams County grand jury indicted Lawrence on May 12. Lawrence pled not guilty when he was arraigned June 1. The case previously was on jury dockets in September, November and December. 

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