Lawrences ask for another delay in court; Milwaukee Tool representative says charity was not given permission to resell tools

Mark and Chris Lawrence

Chris and Mark Lawrence

The attorney representing the former directors of the 2×4’s For Hope charity has once again asked for additional time before making another court appearance

A case management conference scheduled for Monday in the civil case of 2×4’s for Hope vs. Mark and Chris Lawrence was postponed to February 1, 2022. The Lawrence’s must either enter a plea or answer the charges in the civil case.

2×4’s for Hope is a local charity which builds homes for homeless and at-risk veterans. On Nov. 13, the board voted to remove Mark Lawrence as president and Chris Lawrence as treasurer. The Lawrences, who founded the group, were removed from the board entirely following multiple questions about the organization’s finances. The board is suing the couple in an attempt to gain a complete history of the charity’s financial records.

Also at that Nov. 13 meeting, the Lawrence’s were served with a temporary restraining order to keep the couple away from the charity’s finances and property. The board and volunteers then spent two weekends removing computers, tools, trailers, construction equipment and other inventory from the Lawrences’ premises in Melrose Township, where most of it had been stored.

Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha said a multi-jurisdictional criminal investigation is also underway. Lawrence sold tools from the Milwaukee Tool Corporation to multiple companies and allegedly did not transfer those funds into the charity’s accounts.

Board members and Farha were led to believe that Lawrence had permission to sell the tools as long as the money was used to sustain the charity, but a representative from Milwaukee Tools now says that was not the case.

“The tools were donated to be used for the construction of housing for veterans by the 2×4’s for Hope organization and were not to be sold as this product was not sellable merchandise,” said Bill Malzewski of Milwaukee Tools. “The only thing other than using them for the construction of the veteran’s homes was that Mark and Chris Lawrence could donate them to other non-profit organizations in the greater Quincy area as long as the accepting group was not to sell these items. At no time was it ever said that these items could be sold for any monetary amount.”

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation — a Brookfield, Wis., company which develops, manufactures and markets power tools — had donated more than $200,000 in tools to 2×4’s For Hope.

Farha said the Illinois State Police is handling the criminal investigation, which extends to multiple counties where the organization had built homes for veterans and where Mark Lawrence sold donated 2×4’s for Hope equipment.

Farha also said multiple checks for tens of thousands of dollars allegedly were made out from 2×4’s for Hope to Lawrence Construction, a business owned by Mark Lawrence that ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lawrences are represented by Don Schuering. Gerry Timmerwilke is representing the 2×4’s for Hope board of directors.

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