BREAKING: Active investigation ongoing into Luginbill Foundation for suspicious financial transactions


Eau Claire (WQOW) – News 18 is learning about a major development about the Luginbill Children’s Foundation.

Eau Claire police have confirmed to News 18 that an investigation into the foundation has been ongoing since October 2019.

In October 2019, a community member reached out to Eau Claire police with information about suspicious financial transactions.

Police say the investigation is active and ongoing. Officials said due to the nature and the complexity of investigating financial crimes, they expect it will be a lengthy probe.

As News 18 reported earlier in the week, IRS data shows the Luginbill Foundation was named a tax-exempt non-profit in 2018 but the most recent report shows it has failed to file a 990 form which is required to show how a non-profit is spending its money.

All of this comes after news broke that the heat was turned off at the State Theatre because of nearly $21,000 in overdue Xcel bills not paid by Luginbill.

It appears any sign of the foundation’s creator was wiped away online over the weekend. The Luginbill Foundation website and phone no longer work and any sign of Luginbill on social media has been taken down.

News 18 made numerous attempts to contact Luginbill on Monday. Our reporter even went to the home listed as the address for the Luginbill Foundation on the IRS website but nobody answered the door.

The lack of communication and funding has also halted work at the Smile House, one of the Luginbill Foundation’s latest endeavors which was meant to serve as a transitional living program for adults 18 to 24 who were previously in foster care.

The Smile House project lead, Sarah Strunk, told News 18 she hasn’t heard from Luginbill in a week and never received money for the project.

“People’s livelihood is on the line,” Strunk said. “The way people make money and make income, the safe space for these LGBTQ youth to come and have stability is gone. The safe space for these kids aging out of foster care to go and have that promise is gone.”

Azara Properties, which owns the State Theatre, released a statement on Monday saying the Luginbill Foundation was responsible for paying utilities and rent. Officials said they have tried to contact Luginbill about the defaulted payments but have been unsuccessful. They are now working with those impacted to resolve the issues.

Luginbill’s parents put out a statement earlier this week saying they are worried about their son’s safety and health. You can read that entire statement.

Earlier this month, Luginbill was named to the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board by Governor Tony Evers.

On Tuesday, News 18 learned Luginbill resigned from that board just one week ago.

This story is developing and will be updated with additional information.

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